Outreach Trainer Scrutiny: OSHA is cracking down on fraudulent trainers, so should you!

There has been a lot of talk lately about OSHA cracking down on outreach trainers who are fraudulently teaching the 10-Hour and 30-Hour Outreach courses on safety in both General Industry and Construction. With new requirements for training coming from various states and cities, it is easy to see why. The lure of a quick buck has always pulled the fringe elements out of their shadows and onto center stage. With the state of Nevada recently passing their new safety training law, the total number of states requiring 10-Hour Construction safety training is up to seven (CT, RI, NH, MA, NY, MO, NV). Several of these state requirements have come just within the past year or so. Many more cities and other entities require this training as well in the Construction field. All of this with good reason, the injury and fatality rates in Construction are, and have been, staggeringly high for some time now when compared to other industries…even the mining industry has lower rates!

Recently OSHA announced that they would send compliance officers into Texas like a SWAT team, to fan out and do what’s necessary to bring down that state’s dubious distinction of having the highest fatality rate in the country. So it should be no surprise that with an increased emphasis of safety and the related training that there would also be a concern about fraudulent activities associated with the training.

According to a recent OSHA press release (dated May 20, 2009) “The use of independent trainers has allowed OSHA to significantly extend its training capabilities,” said Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “But OSHA will not tolerate fraudulent activity or unscrupulous trainers when workers’ health and lives may be at stake.”

What exactly OSHA will do to curb this potential for fraudulent behavior, beyond sitting in on well publicized and marketed classes, who know?? Most of the fraudulent behavior will no doubt come from those trainers who are trying to do whatever possible to avoid detection…and as OSHA outreach centers do not require any advanced notice of classroom times or locations, it is difficult to believe that relying on OSHA to monitor this dubious behavior will be successful in rooting out all of the bad apples.

So what can you do to protect yourself and get good quality training that you are paying for? A lot!! First and foremost you must realize that you are paying for safety training, and you deserve to get what you’re paying for. After all, if you as a business professional were to buy a particular piece of machinery, say a generator…you’d demand a working generator that supplied power! I can’t imagine a situation in which you’d say…”hey I need a generator, but really anything you got on the cheap will work, regardless of whether it delivers power or not…” You deserve a working generator that delivers what the seller promised. The same holds true for training, whether it is safety, professional development, computer training or even cooking lessons. You deserve to get professional safety training from qualified and experienced trainers, if that is what you are paying for! You should demand nothing short of that.

What to look for in a good trainer:
1. Experience with adult learning…What’s the point of having a world of experience and knowledge, if you can’t effectively transfer that knowledge to others. I know plenty of great safety professionals with years of field experience that couldn’t hold your attention for longer than 5 minutes without one wondering “what that heck is this guy talking about.” Effective communications with students and the ability to effectively transfer knowledge is critical in all training environments. Ask for referrals, and contact previous students to find out the facts.

2. Qualifications…what are the trainer’s qualifications in the area they are training? Do they have expertise and knowledge of the materials they are training on, or are they simply reading power point slides to you? Ask the tough questions before you pay for the class!

3. Curriculum…Are they training on the appropriate subjects? Are they actually training, or have you stumbled into a low pressure sales and marketing meeting, where the trainer is actually trying to sell other services to you? Buyers beware!!

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to sit through 10 hours of a training class, giving up an entire day of productivity, paying a fee to do so, and in doing so have to listen to either an inexperienced, or unprepared trainer meander through the materials all day or worse sit through a SALES presentation…and then having gained nothing for the experience, except an even more distasteful view of safety and safety training! I would be outraged, and so should you.


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