OSHA’s Michaels Concerned Some Oil Spill Workers Not Receiving Proper Training

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels is concerned that many workers are not receiving the training they need to keep them safe during the Gulf Coast oil spill clean-up.

“Employees hired to be supervisors in the onshore and marine cleanup are required to receive extensive training. A rigorous 40-hour program is required under OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operation and Emergency Response Standard,” said Michaels on July 6.

In order to meet the certifications of the 40-hour training, a combination of classroom and hands-on, applicable experience is required. This includes instruction on the makeup and risks associated with the hazardous materials involved and training with the equipment needed to conduct the work, the appropriate personal protective equipment and local environment.

“We have received reports that some are offering this training in significantly less than 40 hours, showing video presentations and offering only limited instruction,” said Michaels. “This training cannot be shortened to anything less than 40 hours. Moreover, computer-based training, which could be offered over the Internet, can be used as part of an overall 40-hour HAZWOPER training course. However, such training alone does not meet the full course requirements.”

Michaels said OSHA also recommends that the trainer-to-student ratio for this type of training be one trainer for every 30 students in the class.

If a worker feels the training he or she received by a private company or organization does not meet the HAZWOPER training requirements, he or she may contact the closest OSHA area office to file a complaint or call 800-321-OSHA (6742) for more information.

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