The Trouble with “OSHA-Approved”

The Trouble with “OSHA-Approved”

Jill James

Jill James

Chief Safety Officer

Jill James brings an unrivaled perspective on risk, regulation and liability. With 14 years of experience as a Senior OSHA Safety Investigator with the State of Minnesota, and nearly a decade in the private sector as a safety program manager, Jill is a passionate advocate for training ROI.

What’s the 4-Letter Word (equivalent) of Safety?

The nails on the proverbial chalk board?

The eye-roller?  

This two word combo: “OSHA-Approved” 

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! 

“Is this ladder OSHA-Approved?”

“My safety glasses are OSHA-Approved!”

“Is this training OSHA-Approved?”

“Are these OSHA 10/30 hour courses OSHA-Approved?” 

Nope! Never!

In fact, there is never a scenario where such phrasing is accurate.

Yet...people say it. All. The. Time. 

It’s occupational safety’s equivalent of the ‘urban myth’. A plain untruth.

You see, a division of federal government’s Department of Labor (DOL) known as the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) does not now, nor has it ever, operated an approval body.

There is no approval infrastructure for manufacturers who ask: “Will you approve this product and put an OSHA sticker on it?”

There is no physical address or testing facility where manufacturers may send ladders, scaffolds, power tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), punch presses, trench boxes, or extension cords, etc.

There are zero OSHA employees traveling to factories or software companies like ours, and approving training products and safety equipment.

So, what words are true and accurate? 

Two phrases to recognize...

“Meets OSHA Requirements”

“OSHA-Compliant”

Manufacturers and online safety training providers like us CAN and DO look first to OSHA standards when creating safety products—it’s essential know-how.

OSHA has standards associated with compliance and many companies—not all— in the safety industry do build to support compliance with OSHA standards. In those cases, promotional statements such as “Meets OSHA Requirements” or “OSHA-Compliant” are faithfully applicable.

Just know that OSHA doesn’t pass out stickers or seals of approval! So the appropriate consumer attitude in those examples is, rightfully, ‘buyer beware’—manufacturers are on a limb of the honor system.

There is one other word to know when it comes specifically to the OSHA 10/30 hour courses for Construction and General Industry, and the word is “Authorized”.

For OSHA’s popular Outreach Training program, the agency is quite particular, allowing a select number of online training providers and live instructors to offer that content for sale with authorization. To earn authorization from OSHA, all training providers are subjected to a process orchestrated by OSHA involving comprehensive training on subject matter, techniques, and testing, all to ensure that the material is delivered to OSHA’s uniform standard. 

Summit Training Source—the top authorized provider of OSHA 10 & 30-hour Outreach Training online—is no exception.

Next time, when you get those “Are you OSHA-Approved?” type questions, you’ll have better answers.

For OSHA’s stance on the validity of online safety training, read What Does OSHA Say About Online Safety Training?