OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

November 27, 1995

                   Regional Administrator

FROM:               JOHN B. MILES, Director 
                   Directorate of Compliance Programs

SUBJECT:            Challenge Testing as a Substitute for Annual Refresher

This is in response to your letter of April 10, forwarding Florida Power Corporation's request for comments regarding their tentative plans to initiate challenge testing as a substitute for mandatory annual refresher training.

The concept of challenge testing seems to be an excellent tool in determining employee knowledge of a specific subject for which they have had previous training, but is not, as Florida Power has acknowledged, a substitute for skills training. There is sufficient interpretative history and published voluntary training guidelines to support Florida Power's endeavors (copies attached). Some of OSHA's newer standards (1910.119 and 1910.269) incorporate this form of training.

However, before a blanket endorsement is given, we recommend a one-year Region IV/Florida Power pilot project be initiated and the effectiveness of Challenge Testing be evaluated. The duly authorized employee representative(s) should be encouraged to actively participate in the pilot program's development.

Our comments on the pilot are:

* The voluntary training guidelines model from OSHA pamphlet 2254 Training Requirements in OSHA standards and Training Guidelines be provided for assistance.

* The training classes to be included in the pilot should be uniquely identified.

* The training classes to be included in the pilot should be evaluated to determine if the standard requiring them is intended to refresh subject knowledge or work practice skills. Where the standard intended both to be addressed annually, then the challenge test can only be substitute for the knowledge requirement.

* If the challenge test is oral instead of written, the test would have to be certified, as to the knowledge proficiency of the employee being tested, by the test provider.

If we can be of assistance on this pilot program please contact Don Kallstrom in the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance (202) 219-8031 x 109.


March 22, 1995

Mr. Lawrence J. Falck, Area Director
Occupational Safety & Health
5807 Breckenridge Parkway, Suite A
Tampa, Florida 33610

Dear Mr. Falck:

I would like to solicit your comments regarding some tentative plans we have at Florida Power Corporation for updating our OSHA training courses. After the March 6, 1995, ASSE meeting, I had an opportunity to speak with Dave Norris about our plans and while he was very positive about them, he suggested I write you for a formal response.

Florida Power Corporation currently has a formal safety training curriculum consisting of over 60 courses (see attachment, "Compliance Training"). A number of those courses, such as asbestos awareness, portable fire extinguishers and the HAZWOPER courses, are presented on an annual basis in response to the requirements of specific standards. While we vary our annual presentations somewhat from year to year, many employees consistently comment that they "already know that material" and would "like to hear about something different."

In order to maintain a high level of interest in our safety training, while complying with requirements for annual training, we are considering developing written "challenge" tests whereby employees can demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter/content of a course. All employees scoring 80% or better on the test would be excused from the formal training session. The correct answers for missed questions would be reviewed with all employees. Employees scoring less than 80% would be scheduled for formal training. Challenge tests would not be used to satisfy the requirements for annual skills demonstrations, such as confined space rescue drills.

Our nuclear training group at Crystal River successfully utilizes challenge tests in partial fulfillment of Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements for radiological safety and fitness for duty training. Similarly, we feel that a conscientiously administered program of challenge testing will compliment and enhance the effectiveness of our OSHA training program.

Having briefly outlined how our challenge test program would work, I would appreciate knowing OSHA's stance on this issue. Specifically, would challenge tests meet the intent of requirements for annual training that exist in various standards? I welcome your comments and shall look forward to hearing from you.


Todd L. Brouette
Manager, Technical & Regulatory