OSHA Gets Generous, Distributes $10 Million for Training

Oct. 8, 2001
OSHA will distribute $10.6 million in training grants to 61 nonprofit organizations to be used to support and develop safety and health training programs.

In the latest round of Susan Harwood Training Grants distributed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), $10.6 million was awarded to 61 nonprofit organizations for safety and health training programs. Grant monies were awarded for workers employed in high-risk activities or hazards and those affected by new or revised OSHA standards.

"These grants are a key part of OSHA''s safety and health partnership and compliance assistance programs with workers and employers that contribute to our overall safety and health mission," said U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "Safety and health training add value to all of America''s workplace operations and directly impact the bottom line -- fewer injuries and illnesses. Good safety and health practices also add value indirectly by increasing performance, productivity, innovation and creativity."

The grants target safety and health training programs in construction; bloodborne pathogens; ergonomics; electrical power generation, transmission and distribution; and hard-to-reach workers. The five training topics are based on injuries and illnesses in selected industries identified in the OSHA Strategic Plan.

"These grants are part of our comprehensive compliance assistance efforts to help workers and employers create safe work environments," said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. "Training supported by these grants takes a pro-active approach in America''s workplaces, focusing on workers who are most at risk."

Twenty-eight new grantees were selected through a national competition open to all non-profit organizations, including 15 that provide outreach to Hispanic workers. Grant recipients include five universities or colleges, four labor-management councils, five unions, four employer associations and 10 other non-profit organizations.

Grants were awarded for a 12-month period. The average federal award is $150,000. If first year performance is satisfactory and funds are available, grants may be renewed for an additional 12-month period.

In addition, $4.7 million was awarded to renew 33 existing grants for another year, while $3.3 million was awarded for 17 Institutional Competency Building Grants, which are intended to develop ongoing safety and health training and service programs that will continue after the grant period ends. Some $1.4 million was awarded for 16 Strategic Planning Grants that assist non-profit organizations in targeting specific hazards in construction, food processing and nursing homes.

Some grants and their recipients include:

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, which will use a $126,090 grant to continue to conduct train-the-trainer sessions focusing on the prevention of ergonomic injuries and construction fatalities. The group will use some of the money to hold an advanced two-day session on construction ergonomics; a follow-up meeting for trainers trained in the first year of the program; and a focus group for Spanish-speaking workers.

A $206,250 grant, which will be used by the regents at the University of California at Berkeley to continue the Young Worker Safety Resource Center, a national center for educational materials and information. The regents hope to focus on developing more comprehensive Web-based information. Train-the trainer programs will be held for 300 school and community-based job readiness and placement staff in nine states. Workshops will be conducted for 100 work site supervisors of youth on workplace safety and health rights and responsibilities. Plus, 3,000 young workers will be trained by the new trainers.

Another grant recipient, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System of Houston, Tex., will use its $277,182 grant to develop an online training program on safe handling of blood in a hospital setting. Specific topics include needleless systems where hazards occur, engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment.

The training grants are named in honor of the late Susan Harwood, a former director of the Office of Risk Assessment in OSHA''s Health Standards Directorate, who died in 1996. During her 17-year tenure with the agency, Harwood helped develop OSHA standards to protect workers exposed to blood borne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos and lead in construction.

by Sandy Smith

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