Employee Training

Training is an integral part of ensuring employees perform their jobs correctly, efficiently, and safely. Sometimes it can be confusing what training MUST be conducted versus what is RECOMMENDED. Certain states may impose specific training requirements. For example, California requires employers to conduct very specific training for both supervisors and managers AND employees on the topic of sexual harassment. Similarly, certain states require certain safety training that may go beyond OSHA’s requirement. This article summarizes federal and general training obligations and recommendations.

SAFETY

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) guide, Training Requirements in OSHA Standards (opens in a new window) provides a comprehensive explanation of which OSHA standards require training. Certain industries and certain jobs require specific training under the OSH Act. For example, if you have employees that work with hazardous chemicals, you must provide training at hire and at least once a year thereafter on the Act’s hazard communication standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency (opens in a new window) also has training requirements that generally overlap with those of OSHA. Again, depending on the nature of your business and the nature of the job, such training could include removal and proper disposal of asbestos, or Hazwoper training in compliance with the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act, which applies to generators of hazardous waste, lead safety.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), have specific training requirements for commercial drivers – especially those carrying hazardous materials.

For those companies that are required to comply with the Federal Drug-Free Workplace requirements, supervisors must be trained on your policy, how to document potential problems and maintain confidentiality.

Even if the federal drug-free workplace requirements don’t apply to your organization, it’s recommended that we training both supervisors and employees on the topic of substance abuse – how to recognize it, how to prevent it, how to get help, etc.

DISCRIMINATION/HARASSMENT

As discussed above, some states, such as California, require annual sexual harassment training. Even though not required in all states, it is a recommended practice that you conduct annual sexual harassment training for all employees because it provides a defense for the company in the event of a lawsuit alleging harassment. Also, this shouldn’t just focus on sexual discrimination/harassment but should be expanded to include other types of discrimination or harassment including age, race, religion, national origin, etc. It is also recommended that training for the general employee population be conducted separately from the training provided to supervisors/managers. This enables employees to ask questions and express concerns about what may be occurring in their departments. It also allows the company to focus on its expectations of supervisors/managers in their compliance with the organization’s policy against discrimination/harassment.

OTHER

Although not required by law, it is highly recommended that your supervisors/managers be trained on various employment laws such as Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination laws for your state/local area, etc. Not only does this allow employers to set expectations for their managers/supervisors, it also helps the manager/supervisor understand why the company has implemented certain policies for compliance.

Businesses should also recognize that there may be specific training required because of the nature of your industry. For example, health insurers and doctors’ offices have an obligation to conduct training in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ensure confidentiality of Protected Health Information (PHI). Similarly, organizations involved with the maintenance, repair or operations of aircraft will need to comply with Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) training requirements.

Some organization may have training requirements imposed by the Health & Human Services Department or by the Department of Children and Families. It’s important for your organization to understand which agencies may affect how and when you train employees.

For many years, organizations covered by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act as well as numerous of non-profit organizations have begun the practice of conducting ethics training for all employees. This topic sets the stage for establishing the organization’s integrity.

Training is an ongoing process. In addition to training that is required by law, employers can benefit from training in such areas as communication and time management. These so-called “soft skills” programs can help improve morale and productivity in your organization. Now is the ideal time to evaluate your workplace to determine what training programs will be beneficial to the organization.


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