Occupational Health and Safety Training

Occupational health and safety training is required for any employer in the United States. The agency that oversees this is known as, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They oversee safety in the workplace and ensure the safety of workers. They make sure that employers provide a healthy work environment free from hazards that can harm a person. Obviously, not all hazardous situations can be prevented, so OSHA incorporates health and safety training standards to help employees do their job in the safest manner possible. This article will help you understand more about these standards and what the programs include.

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations

The Occupational Health and Safety Act was passed on April 28, 1971. They opened up the first Health and Safety training institute in 1972, which focused on training employers to lower hazards in the work environment. The OSHA law states that, “Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace.”

Worldwide there are standards to protect employees from on the job hazards. The International Labour Organization (ILO) oversees health and safety standards in several different countries. They not only improve safety in the workplace, but also set strict standards for child labor and human trafficking.

What’s Included in Occupational Health and Safety Training?

The law states that employers must follow guidelines set in place by OSHA, make sure their work environment is safe for employees and free from severe hazardous conditions. It is the employer’s responsibility to take quick action to correct any hazards in the workplace. They are also responsible for training all employees to identify hazards and report them to management. Training is done in meetings held for management and employees. They include:

  • How to use personal protective equipment (PPE) – This includes gowns, masks, gloves, protective eyewear, and ventilation devices.
  • How to read labeling and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) – MSDS identify potentially harmful chemicals in the workplace and how to decontaminate. Employees are instructed in the proper labeling of chemicals, use of alarms to alert if chemicals are spilled, and color-coding.
  • How to report an injury or illness. Employers must keep injury reports and work related illnesses on file. They also need to keep documentation on file of safety training.
  • Notification of OSHA for fatalities. OSHA must be notified within 8 hours if a fatality occurs in the workplace. Likewise, OSHA must be notified within 24 hours of anyeye losses, employee who is hospitalized due to work injury or illness, or any loss of limb.
  • Employees must be able to see and recognize the OSHA “It’s The Law” poster. This lets employees know and understand what their rights and responsibilities are.
  • By law, employers cannot retaliate. If an employee reports a health and safety hazard or injury, employers cannot retaliate against the employee.
  • Employees can file a confidential report with OSHA. Employees do have the right to report any workplace hazards to OSHA if the employer has not taken the steps to remedy the situation. They have a right to confidentiality if they do this.
  • Employees can inspect accident records. Employees have a right to reports about workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Employers are responsible for air testing. Employers must test the environment and monitor the air to make sure it is of a high quality for breathing. Reports of these tests must be kept on file and employees have a right to see them.
  • Employee work-related medical records must be kept on file. Medical records related to the workplace must be kept on file and the employee has a right to see these records. If they request, they can receive a copy.
  • Employees can meet privately with OSHA inspectors. Any employee has the right to accompany OSHA inspectors that are onsite. Employees can also speak with the inspector in private without management present.
  • Employees can file a complaint with OSHA for retaliation. If an employer retaliates against an employee for reporting a workplace injury, employees can file a complaint with OSHA.
  • Temporary Employees. If the company has temporary employees, they have the same rights and responsibilities as regular employees. This means they must report safety and health hazards, injuries, and use required personal protective equipment (PPE). Employers must offer temporary employees training on the above and how to use PPE. The agency that provides the temporary employee is also partly responsible for initial training of hazards that may be involved with job placement and procedures for reporting hazards or injuries.

All of these points are usually done when an employee is hired during a required orientation session. Then, all employees are required to attend scheduled safety meetings at certain times of the year. Safety meetings must be recorded with date, time, who attended, and what was discussed. This must be kept on file. Employees, management, and OSHA inspectors must be given access to these records.

More About Health and Safety Training Meetings

While safety meetings are not required for every employer, some businesses have to have these meetings a certain number of times during the year. For high-risk employers, it is often required that meetings be held on a monthly basis. If your company works with explosives, extreme heights, scaffolding, and flammables then daily meetings may be required before the start of the day. It is up to the employer to check for specific regulations for your location. Non-compliance with these regulations can have serious implications if someone is injured. Penalties can range from fines to actual criminal charges.

Meeting Agenda

Health and safety training has to address any hazards in the workplace that can cause injury or illness. The meeting agenda must be recorded and kept for up to five years on file. The employees who are in attendance must sign in that they attended the meeting.


Small employers with less than 10 employees may be exempt from OSHA requirements, but not regulations. Safety meetings should be held periodically and recorded. Small employers that handle hazardous materials and conditions may be subject to the same OSHA laws as a large employer. It is the employer’s responsibility to check with the state and federal levels to see what is required. 

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