Online training lets students earn their safety certifications
KINGWOOD — The pandemic has pushed Preston High students online to earn workplace safety certifications, but it’s worthwhile when job-seeking, educators say.
Preston Career and Technical Education students have had access to OSHA training courses for several years. OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — is a regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Labor that oversees workplace safety.
In the past, the high school course was taught partly online, partly in person. COVID-19 has led to it being entirely online.
Preston High School Assistant Principal Pam Wilt said freshmen and sophomores can take the OSHA five-hour courses. Juniors and seniors can take OSHA 10-hour course.
Sharyn Fisher of CareerSafe Online, the company that helps schools in West Virginia set up the OSHA training courses, said every career and technical school in the state offers some form of the program.
The state covers 75% of the cost through the Electronic Training Grant, and schools normally cover the rest. Preston students do not pay for the course.
Fisher said students learn they have rights in the workplace and the proper ways to address safety concerns, and how to identify hazards in the workplace, thus keeping themselves and others safe.
Many companies and unions require OSHA training, Fisher said. Companies can pay lower insurance premiums when workers have the certification, “making this an asset to an employer if the applicant already has their card,” she said.
Students who complete the course receive a lifetime federal credential showing they did so. The certifications are good for most industries, Wilt said.
“Industries are very impressed that the students walk out with an OSHA 10 certification,” Wilt said. “There are specific ones for the different courses, but we generally offer just the general industry.”
Students she’s spoken with who have completed the course say when they present an OSHA 10 card at job interviews, employers are impressed.
Most students who enter CTE in their freshmen or sophomore years are able to earn both the five- and 10-hour certifications, Wilt said.
“We try to offer the OSHA 10 courses that are ideal for them as entry-level workers,” Wilt said. “At this time, when they’re entering the workforce, they don’t have maybe supervisory responsibilities or duties or anything like that.”
The school just began offering OSHA five-hour last year. OSHA 10 has been offered for several years. Wilt estimated about 150 Preston students went through OSHA 10 last year and 50 through OSHA five.