What is OSHA and Why is OSHA Certification Necessary?

What is OSHA Certification?

OSHA certification is an acknowledgment employees get for finishing training courses in OSHA’s Safety and Health Fundamentals Program. A number of OSHA certification courses are developed to educate on basic workplace safety, whereas others might be designed for particular risks or certain roles. For example:

  • Job Hazard Analysis
  • Electrical Standards
  • Health Hazard Awareness
  • Industrial Hygiene
  • Permit-Required Confined Space Entry
  • Machinery and Machine Guarding Standards
  • Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control
  • Training Guidelines for Safe Patient Handling
  • Fall Hazard Awareness for the Construction Sector
  • Occupational Noise Exposure Hazards

How to Get OSHA Certification in the Basics Program

OSHA’s Safety and Health Fundamentals Program grants certificates to individuals who finish at least seven courses. The courses differ in duration from 4 to 35 hours. For a construction or general industry certificate, individuals should finish training for a minimum of 68 contact hours. For a maritime certificate, individuals should finish training for 77 contact hours.

The courses are held at OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers established across the country – typically in a university or college – or remotely using Canvas or Zoom. There is a readable database of courses on the OSHA website that prospective candidates can browse by course, language, location, etc., and know the price of taking a course.

Safety and Health Professionals Taking OSHA Certificate Programs

Besides the Safety and Health Fundamentals Program, there are certificate and degree programs for safety and health specialists. The details are on OSHA’s website. The goal of these programs is to train students and current safety professionals to have the skills and credentials necessary to work at different levels in the safety management industry.

Just like the Safety and Health Fundamentals Program, OSHA certification depends upon individuals finishing a standard amount of courses in a prescribed number of hours. The amount of courses and contract hours necessary for OSHA certification is dependent upon the course level, if Master, Bachelor, Associate, or Certificate, and the level finished at the end.

What’s the Difference Between the OSHA 10-Hour and 30-Hour Certification?

OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour certifications are also called Outreach Certifications. These are two kinds of training courses provided by OSHA-certified training institutions. The 10-hour certification program is created for beginner-level workers and consists of the fundamentals of OSHA compliance like hazard identification, workers’ rights, employers’ obligations, and how to submit a complaint.

The 30-hour certification program is a more advanced course created for supervisors and administrators with accountability for safety and health at work. The program has more subjects compared to the 10-hour program; and, while not standard-specific, is advisable for anyone who will eventually be in charge of giving OSHA training to employees.

Why Get an OSHA Certification?

The benefits of getting an OSHA certification differ based on your location and the sector of your work. In certain states, it is required for employees in the construction sector to have an OSHA 10-hour certification before being accepted to do particular kinds of jobs. In certain states, the 10-hour and 30-hour certification programs need to be retaken every 5 years.

For employees who need to get OSHA certification, the advantages include getting a better knowledge of workplace safety, assisting co-workers in understanding workplace hazards, and assisting a company in improving or keeping safety requirements. In certain instances, specifically, when a high-level qualification is attained, OSHA certification could give one a higher-paid job.

How does OSHA Implement its Criteria?

OSHA implements its criteria via assessments and inspections. Not all businesses under OSHA’s safety and health standards could be checked or inspected at the same time. The organization has created the following system of priorities:

  • An imminent danger in the place of work.
  • Catastrophes and deadly accidents.
  • Complaints of supposed violations.
  • Intended inspections at high-risk work locations.
  • Follow-up examinations to determine if earlier cited violations are fixed.

OSHA considers an imminent danger to be any condition where there exists reasonable certainty that a risk exists that could be likely to result in death or serious harm before the threat can be removed through the regular inspection and implementation process.

Cases like these could be reported to OSHA by a company or a worker, and are evaluated by an area leader before a priority assessment is performed. When an impending danger is affirmed, OSHA’s inspectors will ask for the voluntary elimination of the threat and/or endangered workers from contact with the risk.

When a company does not voluntarily take away the risk and/or vulnerable workers, OSHA can file with the closest Federal District Court for proper judicial action to take care of the matter. Judicial action can include an instant shutdown of the whole operation or a portion of the work environment where there is imminent danger.

How Does OSHA Implement its Standards in Other Situations?

Catastrophes which result in the hospitalization of at least three workers or workplace deaths are number two in OSHA’s system of investigation priorities. In such cases, the goal of the inspection is to find out whether an accident is due to a breach of OSHA criteria and to give instructions to prevent a reoccurrence of a similar event.

Although companies must report a catastrophic incident to OSHA within eight hours of the occurrence, any worker, local state organization, or other public source could file a complaint stating an inability to comply with OSHA. When a violation is discovered in an investigation after a complaint, or in an intended investigation at a high-risk place of work, a citation will be given and the following penalties could apply. The penalties used by state OSHA Plans may be different.

Type of ViolationMinimum PenaltyMaximum Penalty
Serious$1,116 per violation$15,625 per violation
Other-Than-Serious$0 per violation$15,625 per violation
Willful or Repeated$11,162 per violation$156,259 per violation

For a repeated other-than-serious violation with a $0 penalty, the first repeat of the violation will be given a penalty of $414, the second repeat of the violation will have a $1,116 penalty, and the third repeat of the violation will get $2,232. OSHA investigators may also enforce penalties as high as $15,625 per violation for a company unable to place an OSHA violation notice.

Fines for Companies that are Slow or Unable to Comply

The last inspection priority in OSHA’s system of priorities is follow-up assessments to determine whether formerly reported violations were remedied. These assessments can comply with any kind of citation (for example, serious, other-than-serious, repeated, or willful), and their goal is to make sure the risk for which the company was at first reported is abated.

Citations permit a particular length of time for a company to take care of a hazard based on the type of the hazard and the process of slackening it. However, if an employer exceeds the time allowed, OSHA inspectors can issue additional fines as high as $15,625 per day per violation right until the threat is removed. Companies that do not remove a problem or pay OSHA penalties can be made personally responsible by a court.

About the Author

Elizabeth Hernandez
Elizabeth Hernandez is the editor of HIPAA News. Elizabeth is an experienced journalist who has worked in the healthcare sector for several years. Her expertise is not limited to general healthcare reporting but extends to specialized areas of healthcare compliance and HIPAA compliance. Elizabeth's knowledge in these areas has made her a reliable source for information on the complexities of healthcare regulations. Elizabeth's contribution to the field extends to helping readers understand the importance of patient privacy and secure handling of health information. Elizabeth holds a postgraduate degree in journalism. You can follow Elizabeth on twitter at https://twitter.com/ElizabethHzone