The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) generally requires that construction contractors provide safety training for their workforce. However, even though the agency devised the basic OSHA 10-Hour course, it does not require its use, nor does it specify when and where – or how much – training meets its general requirement.
OSHA leaves to employers decisions about exactly what training to provide to their employees. That’s where LIUNA, its Tri-Funds and the Laborers’ training structure come in to help meet all training needs.
The Tri-Funds work hard to find grant funding that helps finance safety training programs that benefit workers and employers alike. One such example is a grant obtained by the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America and the Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund from the Federal Highway Administration, which provides OSHA-10 and additional safety training to LIUNA members on work zone projects.
Whether at the basic, 10-hour level or in more specialized areas, LIUNA signatory employers who want more information about safety and skills training for their workforce should contact the local Laborers’ training center.
In an effort to ensure that proper training is provided in a timely fashion – at least on construction projects financed by the public – LIUNA’s New England Regional Office launched a series of efforts to encourage states in the region to require OSHA 10-hour training on all state projects. After Rhode Island in 2002, Massachusetts (effective July 1, 2006), Connecticut (July 1, 2007) and, this summer, New Hampshire (effective September 14) have enacted the necessary legislation. Also, in its most recent session, New York adopted the OSHA 10-hour requirement, to take effect around the first of next year after the regulatory details are worked out.
“New England construction is highly unionized,” says LIUNA General Secretary Treasurer, New England Regional Manager and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni, who spearheaded the campaign. “For the most part, workers are accustomed to the many safety protections that come with work in a union environment and employers enjoy the benefits of the excellent training provided at our training centers. However, because LIUNA can’t ensure training for every worksite, we’ve pursued this legislation to guarantee it, at least on all public works projects. These laws ensure a safer environment for workers and a level playing field for union employers who are bidding on state projects.”
The OSHA 10-hour is considered the industry’s standard, basic safety course. It is designed for presentation to workers and emphasizes hazard identification, avoidance, control and prevention, not OSHA standards. No workers should enter construction employment without training in the most common dangers they will face on the job.
For Laborers, such basic training as well as more thorough, specialized and in-depth safety training is provided by Laborers’ training centers, located all across the U.S. and Canada. The OSHA 10-hour, or its equivalent, is required training for all LIUNA apprentices. Some large construction contractors, including many LIUNA signatory employers, require the class for all employees.
The 10-hour begins with three required one-hour sessions:
- Introduction to OSHA
- OSH Act
- General duty clause
- Competent person
- Electrical (subpart K)
- Fall protection (subpart M)
Based on the expected focus of work for the trainees in the course, instructors then must choose at least three of the following six topics (one hour each), expanding or augmenting each with other topics to make a total of seven additional hours:
- Personal protective and lifesaving equipment (subpart E)
- Materials handling, storage, use and disposal (subpart H)
- Tools: hand and power (subpart I)
- Scaffolds (subpart L)
- Cranes, derricks, hoists, elevators and conveyors (subpart N)
- Excavations (subpart P)
- Stairways and ladders (subpart X)
“Training is only one aspect of a comprehensive safety program,” Sabitoni says. “Even with adoption of this legislation, it is up to employers and their workers to follow through by establishing comprehensive safety programs, creating proactive labor-management safety committees and exercising strong safety leadership at the management and supervisory levels. Nevertheless, state laws that require OSHA 10-hour training set a strong foundation upon which employers and workers can build, and we’d like to see other states adopt this requirement.”
The New England Laborers’ Labor-Management Cooperation Trust (NELLMCT) organized the pacesetting legislative campaign in Rhode Island. As it pursued passage of the law, NELLMCT also made plans to help signatory employers get ready for its implementation. It organized a breakfast workshop to explain the requirements of the new law, and the Pomfret Center (CT) and Hopkinton (MA) Laborers’ training centers developed a schedule to make classes available at convenient places and times so employers could get their workers through the necessary training. By the time the law went into effect, virtually all Rhode Island signatory contractors were fully qualified to bid on and accept state contracts.
NELLMCT can help LIUNA-related forces in other states pursue adoption of similar laws. For help, contact Michael A. Traficante, Director of Governmental Affairs.