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OSHA 10-Hour Training Rule Assessed

A decade ago, at the direction of LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and New England Regional Manager Armand E. Sabitoni, the New England region launched a series of state legislative campaigns that eventually resulted in the requirement of OSHA 10-hour training for all workers employed on publically-financed construction projects in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York. Subsequently, Nevada and Missouri also joined the trend.

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LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni

Now, a newly-released report, Evaluation of the Implementation and Impact of a Massachusetts Construction OHS Training Rule, assesses the success of these requirements in one of the key states. The March 6, 2012, report relies on qualitative reports from those involved with the law’s application and a survey of 100 workers from across the state.

According to the report, OSHA 10 training was already common in large commercial projects (public and private) when the law took effect (July 1, 2006), due to the prevalence of union construction in Massachusetts. Nevertheless, the interviewees credited the law with setting a “baseline” and imposing a minimum standard to which smaller, non-union contractors who wish to undertake public work must now adhere. They also credited the rule with fostering an “industry standard” for private sector projects. Some also credited the law with encouraging supervisors to take the OSHA 30-hour course in order to better manage their 10-hour-trained workforces.

Those interviewed were not sure if the rule had had much impact in the residential sector of the industry where smaller, non-union operations dominate. Also, it is unclear if the law strengthens training of workers with limited English language skills.

The worker survey revealed that 44 of the 100 respondents had OSHA 10 training cards with about two-thirds acquiring them since the law took effect. Most received their training at a union training center, and it was paid for by a union or a joint labor-management training fund. Three quarters were aware of the OSHA 10-hour requirement, and most felt that having a card was an advantage in getting work. At 45 percent, Laborers were the most common trade among survey respondents.

“We’re pleased to see that 95 percent of those surveyed found the training useful,” says Sabitoni, who also serves as the LHSFNA’s Labor Co-Chairman. “A third believed they were more likely to take actions to improve jobsite safety and health following the training. This translates to improved on-the-job safety performance.”

The evaluation produced several recommendations to enhance the law:

  • Establish a four- or five-year expiration date for the card and require 4-10 hours of refresher training
  • Improve standards and monitoring of training programs
  • Limit or eliminate online training

In addition, the evaluation highlighted the failure of the law to compel non-union, residential and Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking employee training. However, it did not suggest how to tackle this problem.

More information about OSHA 10-hour training can be acquired from Laborers’ Training Centers that are located all across the country. Contact information is available on the LIUNA Training and Education Fund’s website.

[Steve Clark]

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