OSHA 10- and 30-hour training — Hard work that pays off

July 19, 2010
Training provides general awareness on primary safety and health matters.

All over the country, students and employees are taking classes and getting their 10- and 30-hour OSHA training course completion cards. The cards are a right of passage for employees and indicate that the cardholder has received training in specific core elements of safety and health.

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Some states require construction employees working on public projects to have their 10-hour training done before they walk onto the construction site. Even if that is not a requirement, having some basic training will certainly help employees stay safe on the jobsite.

However, it is not just construction workers that are getting the 10- and 30-hour training; 20% of the completion cards are issued to workers in general industry. 

What is 10- and 30-hour training?

The training provides general awareness on primary safety and health matters. Employees are taught to recognize, control, and prevent safety and health hazards.

OSHA has guidelines for 10- and 30-hour training for both the construction industry and general industry workers. The 10-hour course is just that, 10 hours of training in various topics that is tailored to the needs of the specific group of employees being trained. The 30-hour course is an expansion of the 10-hour that provides more detail on the specific topics.

OSHA does not require that employers train workers using the guidelines (although some states require 10- and 30-hour training for construction employee working on certain projects). However, employees do need to be trained to recognize, control, and prevent safety and health hazards. The 10- and 30-hour training is an efficient way to provide basic safety information.

Employees must receive additional training (over and above the 10- and 30-hour training) on specific hazards of their job. OSHA leaves it up to the employer to determine how to do that, although there are mandatory training requirements for some hazards.

Who can conduct the training?

Only OSHA authorized trainers can perform 10- and 30-hour training. They have completed the one-week OSHA trainer’s course, have had at least five years of safety and health experience, and have completed the standard 30-hour OSHA training. Trainers must also attend an update course every four years.

The one-week OSHA trainer’s course is conducted by the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) and OTI Education Centers.

To find a trainer, visit the www.outreachtrainers.org website.

Why use the 10- and 30-hour training?

The authorized trainers follow OSHA guidelines to tailor the courses to their specific audience. They are free to assemble class materials from various sources, allowing flexibility in how the content is presented.


The 10- and 30-hour training has become the standard for OSHA orientation training in both construction and general industry.

After the training is completed, the trainer lets OSHA know which students passed the course. The trainer is sent a course completion card and in turn sends that card on to the trainee. This card signifies that the student has passed the course. OSHA recognizes the completion card as an indication of the importance of safety and health at an organization.

Laws enacted in a number of states require 10-hour construction training for employees working on certain types of projects.

How is the training designed?

According to OSHA, the most efficient training will be designed and taught as follows:

Worker emphasis — Outreach classes are designed to be presented to all workers, not just those familiar with OSHA regulations. That is why the training must emphasize hazard identification, avoidance, control and prevention, and not OSHA standards. Presentations must be tailored to the specific needs and understanding of the audience.

Importance of training — Trainers should explain early in the class that this training isn’t a time waster and that it may save the trainees’ life. 

Site-specific training — Students will benefit most from classes they can relate to. The trainer can help by using examples, pictures and real-life scenarios from workplaces that are familiar to students.

Homogenous class — The ideal class is one where students have similar positions and needs. It is best to hold separate sessions for supervisors, managers and workers, when possible. Try to train workers from similar groups such as trade groups, office personnel, machine operators and maintenance staff.

Train workers in their language — When training, make sure you know your audience, including whether there are language barriers. To the extent possible, teach non-English speaking workers separately. Use translators, easy to understand photos, videos in their language and hands-on activities. Also emphasize real-life examples.

Describe skills/training objectives — Effective trainers will describe the skills and abilities the students should have for each topic. Then, develop course objectives that mesh with the students’ job or work, if possible.

Presentation style — Students learn in different ways and benefit from multiple training styles. Use different trainers, computer presentations, videos, case studies, exercises, and graphics to make the course interesting and enjoyable. By doing so, trainers will be employing the three levels of training techniques:

  • Presentation (presenting the material in a variety of ways),
  • Discussion (getting the students involved in the learning), and 
  • Performance (students practice the material they learned).

Testing — OSHA feels quizzes and tests help students remain focused and understand key objectives. Trainers may set passing scores and then provide feedback to the students on the exam questions.

Evaluations — A class evaluation should be completed. Trainers should use this feedback to determine whether the course has accomplished the goals and how to improve the training.

Growth of the 10- and 30-hour training

According to OSHA:

  • During the fours years from 2005-2008, there were 411,067 general industry completion cards issued.
  • For the same time period, 1,601,335 construction industry completion cards were issued.
  • Compare these numbers to the four year period from 2001-2004 when 231,934 general industry cards and 833,448 construction cards were issued.

There is much more to the 10- and 30-hour OSHA training courses than just throwing some information together as an instructor or simply sitting in a classroom and snoozing as a student. Significant time and energy have to be expended by both the student and the instructor to receive that hard-earned course completion card.

This article originally appeared in Workplace HR & Safety, Copyright 2010, Briefings Media Group, LLC.  By J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., the nation's leader in risk and regulatory management solutions since 1953. For more information, visit www.jjkeller.com

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