Monday, October 5, 2009

Wheres the Beef? Previous Training Grant Materials

With the recent Chemical Safety Board accident investigation recommendations following the Imperial Sugar Refinery explosion, stakeholders in the manufacturing sector are even more pressed in addressing combustible dust hazards in the workplace. One of the five key recommendations was for stakeholders to develop training materials for employees and contractors on the hazards of combustible dust. That is easier said than done. There have been several excellent combustible dust training programs developed through the Susan Harwood Training Grant over the last two years.

The problem is gaining access to this safety training material that the taxpayers have already paid for. In contrast, the training videos on combustible dust that the North American Die Casting Association produced through the Susan Harwood Grant is easily accessible for free on YouTube. So far, haven't been so lucky on the web in viewing the training materials on combustible dust hazards that Georgia Tech Research Institute, Kirkwood Community College, and the Texas Engineering Extension Service developed from over $500, 000 in grant money through the 2008 Susan Harwood Program.

Training is definitely needed on combustible dust hazards in the workplace there is no arguing that. Over $448,000 was awarded to two recipients in 2009 to also develop combustible dust safety training. So how many times do we need to develop combustible dust safety training? Wouldn't once be enough? Seems like the combustible dust safety videos that the North American Die Casting Association has available for free is the direction that combustible dust hazard awareness program should be going. But what the heck if you got an extra couple $100, 000 in the kitty, then let's spread the love. Who said the nation was in the worst recession since the Great Depression?

Turning up stones always seems to get me in trouble, especially when I end up with more questions than answers. Sort of like when the CSB reported in their 2006 Combustible Dust Hazard Study that there was 281 combustible dust incidents from 1980-2005 or on an average 12/annually. Yet in 2008, after over a thousand hours of research I discovered in media reports over 150 ComDust incidents in the manufacturing, non-manufacturing and utility sectors. If only the CSB would have provided the disclaimer in their press releases concerning incident data, then the media, legislators, stakeholders, the public, and OSHA would have had a better idea of the complexity of the combustible dust issue.

CSB Combustible Dust Incident Data Disclaimer

"The combustible dust incidents included here are likely only a small sampling, as no federal or state agency keeps specific statistics on combustible dust incidents, nor does any single data source provide a comprehensive collection of all these incidents. Information about small combustible dust incidents and near-misses is also generally unavailable. For instance, because incidents that cause no fatalities, significant injuries, or major fires may not be recorded in the OSHA and fire incident databases, the true extent of the problem is likely understated. "

In regards to access to training materials that have already been developed through OSHA training grants the picture gets much larger than just combustible dust training which is a very small niche in occupational health and safety. Since 2003 there has been over $60, 000, 000 awarded to over 345 grantees. Yet only 14 or 4% of these training program materials are available on the OSHA web site. So where's the beef? What happened to the other 331 training program educational materials?

In many instances previous training programs over the past seven years for the same subject are being developed over and over again. So how many times does the identical subject need to be redeveloped and where is the oversight? Web based information, Power Point Presentations, on-line training materials, module interactive courses, computerized training videos, web based photo libraries, and macro-media presentation modules are a few examples of training materials that has been developed, yet there is no public access.

Having these excellent educational materials that has already been developed, readily available on the web for the entire workforce would assist in providing the much needed educational resources in reducing workplace fatalities, injuries, and economic disruption. Hopefully OSHA will eventually realize the immense power of the web through social networking utilizing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, etc so as to reach the millions of workers who search for content on their iPhones, Blackberries, and personnel computers. Already many Fortune 500 companies use these resources in selling their products and services. So whats wrong with a new paradigm in selling occupational health and safety to the nation's workforce?

Example OSHA Grant Training Resources
Safety and Health Management Systems


Anonymous said...

This is an amazing point. I do say, that the course offered by GTRI was extremely well put together, and it provided a great deal of education to those who attended. But why not share this with everyone?

John Astad said...

Correct. Wouldn't take much to post a Power Point presentation.


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