Why a Legal Basis for Training?

The adequacy of employee training may also become an issue in contested cases where the affirmative defense of unpreventable employee misconduct is raised. Under case law well established in the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts, an employer may successfully defend against an otherwise valid citation by demonstrating that all feasible steps were taken to avoid the occurrence of the hazard and that actions of the employee involved in the violation were a departure from a uniformly and effectively enforced work rule of which the employee had either actual or constructive knowledge.

In either type of case, the adequacy of the training given to employees in connection with a specific hazard is a factual matter, which can be decided only by considering all the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violation. The guidelines are not intended, and cannot be used, as evidence of the appropriate level of training in litigation involving either the training requirements of OSHA standards or affirmative defenses based upon employer training programs.

In an attempt to assist employers with their occupational safety and health training activities, OSHA has developed a set of training guidelines in the form of a model. This model is designed to help employers develop instructional programs as part of their total education and training effort. The model addresses the questions of who should be trained, on what topics, and for what purposes. It also helps employers determine how effective the program has been and enables them to identify employees who are in greatest need of education and training. The model is general enough to be used in any area of OSH training and allows employers to determine for themselves the content and format of training. Use of this model in training activities is just one of many ways that employers can comply with the OSHA standards that relate to training and enhance the safety and health of their employees. The training model can be found in Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines (OSHA 2254).

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