In September, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) awarded $10.5 million in safety and health training grants to 77 nonprofit organizations, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The grants provide training and education on recognizing and preventing health and safety hazards in the workplace and informing workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.


Funded through the DOL’s Susan Harwood Training Grants Program, the awards go to community and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor and management associations, and colleges and universities. The program particularly hopes to educate small-business employers and underserved, vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries.


“Education and training help employers keep our nation’s workers safe and healthy, especially in high-hazard industries,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. 


This year, roughly $3.6 million was awarded in new targeted-topic training grants to 28 organizations. To receive a grant, organizations must develop materials and programs covering health and safety topics chosen by OSHA. Topics include silica, confined spaces, workplace violence and other workplace hazards.


For example, the Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va., received $139,859 to provide a 7.5-hour training seminar on OSHA’s Focus Four hazards (falls, caught-in or caught-between, struck-by and electrocution) in English and Spanish in seven locations across the United States to small businesses with non-English-speaking and minority contract workers.


OSHA also presented nearly $5.5 million in follow-on grants to grantees that performed satisfactorily during the fiscal 2015 grant year. Many of the grants were awarded to organizations training workers in the construction and building fields. However, grants were also awarded for training in the nursing and healthcare, agriculture, firefighting, landscaping, and the poultry and meatpacking, paper, and nail and hair salon industries.


“The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program is one of the most effective ways we have for communicating with vulnerable and hard-to-reach workers in high-hazard industries who may not know how to avoid and prevent safety and health hazards in their workplaces,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “Harwood Program grantees conduct safety and health training in 24 languages, helping workers understand their right to a safe workplace.”


The program has provided training to approximately 2.1 million workers since its inception in 1978. More information is available at www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html.