OSHA Stresses Limits on Computer-Based Training

- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reinforced its stated policy that online and computer training alone for employees is not adequate to meet federal train requirements.

OSHA’s interpretation of its requirement that training must “result in mastery of the training material” leads to the conclusion that online training must be supplemented by interactive and physical components, such as putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE).

OSHA adds that the opportunity for workers to be able to ask questions of, and receive responses from, a qualified trainer in a timely manner is critical to effective training. As a result, it says, online training that does not provide workers with this opportunity would not be in compliance with OSHA’s worker training requirements.

OSHA notes that one way for the employer to give workers this opportunity in the context of a computer-based program is by providing a telephone hotline so that workers will have direct access to a qualified trainer during the conduct of the online training. But even that is not considered optimum by the agency in regard to certain kinds of training.

For training to be considered adequate, OSHA says a qualified trainer must supplement and facilitate any appropriate hands-on training or demonstration (for example, how to use a tool, perform a task or don appropriate PPE) as necessary for the employee to learn the proper safety and operational techniques, and for the trainer to assess the employee’s mastery of them.

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