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Training Gains Momentum

Blended learning is making training more accessible, affordable,
and available to more people
by Michael Gerwitz

As part of the ongoing effort to provide training opportunities that are more accessible, affordable, and available to more people, OSHA’s Office of Training and Education is transitioning to a learning environment that incorporates web-based learning, resident instruction, and satellite broadcasts. This mix of training approaches is referred to as "blended learning." The benefit of "blended learning" is that all the students will come to OSHA’s resident training with the same basic knowledge level and then be ready for more "hands-on" instruction.

The web-based portion of each course guides students through the basics and ensures that they understand the material. So far, 15 web-based training courses are in various stages of development and will soon be available. Web-Based Training Gains Momentum

OSHA’s first web-based training course, Introduction to Excavation, Trenching, and Soil Mechanics, is now a prerequisite for attendance at the resident course. The web course gives students a solid foundation in the "textbook" portion of the class. It covers excavation site requirements, cave-in protection systems, rock and soil analysis, and sloping, supporting, and shielding systems.

After completing the web course, students attend a five-day comprehensive resident course during which they will focus on more "real-life" situations with hands-on practical applications. Future plans call for refresher training to be delivered using "video tele-training" through satellite broadcasts for this and many other courses.

Another blended learning course is Fire Protection and Life Safety. This course provides compliance officers and consultants with basic knowledge related to fire protection and life safety in the workplace. Its six modules cover fire protection standards; the chemistry of fire, classes of fire, and fire extinguishing agents; fire detection and employee warning notification systems; types of fire protection systems and inspection and maintenance procedures for them; and fire brigade requirements, equipment, and incipient and structural fires.

The Workplace Violence Awareness course covers basic concepts and resources to address workplace violence. It includes an online forum devoted to the free exchange of information and discussions for compliance safety and health officers. The forum provides a wide range of information, best practices, training, resources, discussions, regulations, documentation, and a collaboration center.

The Industrial Ventilation course provides information about controlling the environment with airflow. Students will learn about the equipment and operations associated with the supply or exhaust of air, by natural or mechanical means, to control occupational hazards in an industrial setting. This 13-hour course begins with a refresher lesson in algebra because there are numerous algebraic calculations involved in industrial ventilation system analysis. The course also covers dilution ventilation, local exhaust ventilation, hood and fan design selection, and ventilation system troubleshooting.

The Occupational Biohazards course focuses on 25 common microorganisms, including bloodborne pathogens, that pose an occupational biohazard to workers. The course covers types of microorganisms, biological safety levels, and regulatory requirements. The web-based course is a lead-in to a comprehensive resident lab program during which students perform mock inspections and write citations.

The Introduction to Permit-Required Confined Spaces for General Industry course gives compliance officers, consultants, and their supervisors a basic foundation in hazard recognition, evaluation, and control of safety and health hazards associated with confined space entry. The course also covers control methods, testing, training requirements, employee roles, and rescue operations. It prepares students for hands-on training and workshops in the Permit-Required Confined Space Entry resident course.

For more information about web-based training or distance learning, contact Michael Gerwitz by phone at (847) 759-7782 or by email at

OSHA offers a wide range of training on occupational safety and health topics at the OSHA Training Institute and at OSHA Training Institute Education Centers nationwide. For details, visit the OSHA website at Click on Training. JSHQ

Gerwitz is the OSHA distance learning program manager.

Web-Based Courses
Ready Now Or Soon
  • Introduction to Excavation, Trenching, and Soil Mechanics
  • Industrial Ventilation
  • Fire Protection and Life Safety
  • Introduction to Permit-Required Confined Spaces for General Industry
  • Grain Handling Operations
  • Fall Protection
  • Principles of Scaffolding
  • Principles of Applied Spray Finishing and Dipping and Coating
  • Workplace Violence Awareness
  • Occupational Biohazards
  • Introduction to Ionizing Radiation Protection at Department of Energy Facilities
  • Introduction to Onsite Consultation
  • Machine Guarding
  • Respirator Protection
  • Concrete, Forms, Shoring

OTI to Move to New Facility

The OSHA Training Institute, located in Des Plaines, Ill., for the last 25 years, is slated to move to its new three-story facility in nearby Arlington Heights, Ill. According to Dr. Henry Payne, Director of OSHA’s Office of Training and Education, the new center will have 57,000 square feet of classroom, laboratory, and office space—22,000 square feet more than the Des Plaines center. It will feature expanded health and safety laboratories and OTI’s first construction lab in which students will receive hands-on training to supplement their classroom learning.