“Barb was trained on how to avoid injuries when laboring in an area with lots of forklift truck traffic,” said George, the supervisor. “It’s not our fault that she ignored the instructions and got hurt when a forklift ran over her foot.”
“She was badly hurt,” replied Tammy, the compliance officer. “Her foot might have to be amputated.”
“It was unfortunate,” said George.
“You’re claiming that the worker was trained on pedestrian safety in areas where forklifts operate,” said Tammy. “When was this education provided?”
“Barb received the training when she first started working for us,” said George. “It’s part of our new-hire orientation program.”
“I see,” said Tammy. “However, the worker had recently been reassigned to a new job. Did you retrain her on pedestrian safety after she was transferred?”
“No,” said George.
“The regulations require that employees be retrained when their job duties change,” said Tammy. “I’m citing you.”
“You’re just looking for reasons to penalize us,” said George. “Barb’s new job duties were substantially similar to what she had been doing. The training on pedestrian safety was as relevant to her new job as it was to her old job.”
“That might have been the case,” said Tammy. “However, the retraining was still required.”
“No, it wasn’t,” said George. “We’ll fight your citation.”
Did the company win?
Yes. The company won. An appeals board dismissed the citation. The board decided that the employer had adequately trained the woman on how to behave safely in areas with lots of forklift traffic.
Even though the staffer had recently been reassigned to a different job, the training provided during her new-hire orientation was still applicable because it dealt with the importance of remaining vigilant when forklifts are nearby.
The employer would have needed to retrain her only if her new job duties presented an entirely new hazard. In this case, the danger to pedestrians from forklift trucks was still the same, despite her new job assignment, so retraining wasn’t mandatory.
What it means: When retraining isn’t needed
While safety regulations sometimes require you to provide additional training to crew members when their job duties change, you have to provide the retraining only if the new position would present dangers that couldn’t have been encountered in the previous job.
If the hazards will be the same, you don’t have to provide additional training. If you’re unsure whether an employee who’s assumed new job duties must be retrained, talk to your safety manager for insight on how to proceed.
Based on CalOSHA v. Sunview Vineyards of California.
(From the Feb. 18, 2020 issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors)