Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fraudulent OSHA trainers under fire

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented more rigorous guidelines and improved monitoring standards to eliminate fraudulent trainers from the ranks of its Outreach Training Program.

The 36-year-old Outreach Training Program is a voluntary program that has grown to a national network of more than 16,000 independent trainers. Eligible trainers teach workers and employers about workplace hazards and are also authorized to provide OSHA 10-hour course-completion cards.

However, some trainers have been fraudulently issuing course-completion cards without providing the appropriate workplace safety training.

"The use of independent trainers has allowed OSHA to significantly extend its training capabilities," said Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "But OSHA will not tolerate fraudulent activity or unscrupulous trainers when workers' health and lives may be at stake.” (OSHA press release)

As the program’s success grew, some states and cities made the 10-hour courses a mandatory term of employment. Fraudulent training activity became more apparent to OSHA after businesses started making it a requirement for workers.

To fight the fraudulent training activity, OSHA has increased unannounced monitoring visits to check that trainers are adhering to program requirements. Any fraudulent activity will continue to be reported to the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General. Trainers caught falsifying information may be subject to criminal prosecution.

"Strengthening the integrity of the Outreach Training Program will help ensure that workers receive quality training, help them gain employment and return them home safely at the end of their workday," said Barab.

OSHA has asked the public to call a new outreach fraud hotline at 847-297-4810 to file complaints about fraud and abuse related to the Outreach Training Program.

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