March 11, 2011
2511 Montclaire Circle
Weston, FL 33327
Dear Mr. Weisman:
Thank you for your November 17, 2010, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter has been referred to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). You requested OSHA's guidance on whether the training requirements for OSHA standards require a person to be available to answer questions immediately during the training session. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. Your paraphrased question and our response is below.
Background: Your letter refers to three OSHA letters addressing the requirement to have questions answered by having an instructor present, an immediate response e-mail system, or a telephone hotline set-up, when training is conducted under the bloodborne pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030.
Question: Is it OSHA's position that the training provisions under all OSHA standards require that an instructor be present or, if the training is done online, that a person be available to answer questions via phone or e-mail immediately?
Response: No, not all the OSHA standards have specific requirements for an instructor to be present or that a person be available to answer questions immediately. However, OSHA standards do have different requirements regarding training; each standard needs to be specifically looked at to determine the training requirements. Some examples of the training sections where interaction with the trainer is written into the standard are provided to show the differences.
The hazardous waste operations and emergency response standard at 29 CFR 1910.120(e)(3)(i), (e)(3)(ii) and (e)(3)(iii), requires: "...actual field experience under the direct supervision of a trained, experienced supervisor."
The powered industrial truck standard at 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(2)(i) and (l)(2)(i)(A) requires that: "Trainees may operate a powered industrial truck only: Under the direct supervision of persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train operators and evaluate their competence." In addition, 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(2)(ii) requires: "Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace."
The bloodborne pathogens standard at 29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2)(vii)(N), requires: "An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with the person conducting the training session."
OSHA believes that the effectiveness of training is enhanced by trainer/trainee interaction, although this is not written in all the OSHA standards. However, in assessing the adequacy of an employer's training program OSHA will question employees to determine if they understood the training. As the requirements vary by the standard, please contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (4367) if you have questions concerning the requirements of a specific standard.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statue, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they can not 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 www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs