Worker Safety Regulators Want More Oversight of Online Courses

- Federal workplace safety officials are considering changing how they regulate companies offering online safety training courses leading to OSHA certifications. Instead of online providers acting independently, OSHA proposes that each provider would have to reach a “voluntary” agreement with the government to form a “consortium.”

The consortium would include the online school, OSHA, and any of several nonprofit schools already offering OSHA-approved in-person courses.

OSHA in an Oct. 9 notice said the consortiums would improve online curriculum and resolve student complaints about how the courses are managed. The problems prompting the consortium proposal, OSHA said, include inconsistent training quality, the lack of assurance that the person taking the course is the registered student, students trying to rush through a course in less than the required time, and customer service concerns such as the late issuing of certification cards.

Currently, OSHA authorizes only nine providers to offer courses through the internet, mostly private online schools. The proposed plan wouldn’t limit the number of online schools. The agency won’t make a decision on launching the consortium plan until after it receives comments from the schools and public. The deadline to offer opinions is Dec. 9.

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