- Standard Number:
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 http://www.osha.gov.
June 11, 2015
455 Market Street, Ste. 500
San Francisco, CA 94105
Dear Mr. Craig:
Thank you for your April 7, 2014, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in which you request clarification regarding OSHA's training requirements of health, safety and environmental (HSE) consultants. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the questions discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence. We apologize for the delay in our response.
Background: In your letter you state your company (ESIS) has HSE professionals, such as Certified Safety Professionals (CSP) and Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH), who visit a variety of companies and industries. ESIS employees may be exposed to hazards equivalent to those of site employees, but that exposure may be of finite duration. Their exposure can vary on a daily or even hourly basis. The HSE consultants are not involved in operating facility processes. Their activity primarily involves observation and interviewing in an effort to gather needed information to fully assess the processes in order to quantify and reduce their risks.
Your paraphrased question and OSHA's response follow:
Question: For HSE consultants, what scope and depth of training is needed to meet OSHA's training requirements and who is responsible for providing the training?
Response: The employer supplying the HSE consultant and the host/client company are jointly responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the HSE consultants. Thus both the direct employer (ESIS) and the client are responsible for ensuring that appropriate training has been received and understood by the HSE consultants. The primary responsibility for ensuring that appropriate training is provided to the consultants is the consultants' direct employer. However, site-specific training may more appropriately be provided by the client of the HSE consulting company because they are the creator of hazards to which the consultants are exposed. Precisely how this joint responsibility is apportioned is determined by ESIS and its clients.
The type and level of training required for HSE professionals, as for all workers, is dependent on the potential hazards they may encounter, and on the OSHA standard(s) that apply. For example, if the HSE consultant is a CIH that will be conducting air monitoring at an asbestos abatement work site, the level of required training depends upon the asbestos exposure level, the class of work being done, and whether the consultant enters the regulated area. For additional information, see: OSHA Letter of Interpretation to Richard Frey, July 1, 1999.
Another OSHA Letter of Interpretation to Dr. Louis Hosek, February 13, 2004, asks OSHA: "How many days per year would an employee have to be exposed to an environment with noise levels in excess of the 85 decibel time weighted average before he/she is required to be covered by the company's hearing conservation program (HCP)?"
OSHA's response: One day. The occupational noise exposure standard requires that all employees exposed to noise levels at or above 85 dB on an 8-hour (TWA) must be included in a HCP. This includes employees who may have only occasional exposures at this level. Thus, for example, the HCP provisions would apply with respect to an engineer or other such employees who visit a facility several times a year and are exposed to TWA noise levels at or above 85 dB, even though they may not experience any other such exposures during the year.
The Hosek Letter of Interpretation also applies to HSE consultants.
In your letter you also mention electrical exposures and training requirements. In the OSHA Letter of Interpretation to Steve Trawick, September 9, 1993, OSHA states "...employees who face a risk of electric shock or other electrical hazards that are not reduced to a safe level by the electrical installation requirements of sections 1910.303 through 1910.308, must be trained in electrical safety-related work practices as required by sections 1910.331 through 1910.335." Again, this letter is applicable to HSE consultants.
As demonstrated above, the exposure or potential exposure of employees and the applicable OSHA standards determine the minimum required training. Limited duration of, or proximity to, exposure to hazards does not reduce or eliminate the employers" training obligation. OSHA standards applying to specific situations are found in part 1910 - General Industry, 1915 - Shipyard Employment, or 1926 - Construction, depending on the industry involved. Training requirements for nominally similar hazards may vary depending on the applicable part.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the
Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impacts a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation. To assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-2100.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs