For the second time in three years, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) has lost its battle to award online training contracts for Online OSHA 10 & 30 hour training to a limited number of providers. On July 31, Judge Edward J. Damich of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington struck OSHA down…again, stating:
- If OSHA wishes to continue the process of awarding training contracts it will have to reissue an amended solicitation that complies with the Competition in Contracting Act;
- Before OSHA makes any award, it must conduct an organizational conflicts of interest analysis based on the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Act.
For a quick recap, let’s go back to March of 2011 when OSHA first issued a “national competition” for the selection of online OSHA 10 & 30 hour providers. Prior to the national competition, there were a number of vendors that had completed the approval process with OSHA to offer Online OSHA 10 & 30 hour training. OSHA had requirements that the vendors had to meet in order to qualify to offer the training, however, OSHA did not limit the number of vendors. In January of 2012, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels, released a statement that OSHA had selected, from the results of the national competition, 10 authorized providers to offer Online OSHA 10 & 30 hour training. This was soon followed by a lawsuit by two vendors who argued that OSHA didn’t follow the procedures it outlined in solicitation requests for evaluating submissions (Am. Safety Council v. United States, s, Fed. Cl., No. 12-355C, 8/20/12; 42 OSHR 757, 8/23/12). The vendors won the case, and very quietly, OSHA reversed the results of the national competition and the list of originally approved vendors were reinstated.
Fast forward to 2014. Once again, OSHA asked both public and private vendors to submit their bids, this time under the guise of a “Request for Proposal (RFP)”. In the RFP, OSHA stated they were going to select up to two vendors to offer the training, they would control the pricing, and they would have ownership of the training content contained in the courses to use at their discretion. And once again, OSHA was opposed by a vendor. The complaint challenged OSHA’s proposed restrictions on the number of schools offering courses and the fees they can charge. After the second dismissal in July, OSHA has remained mum on whether they would try to limit online OSHA 10 & 30 hour training in the future, via a competition, RFP or another scheme they come up with.
Online safety training and its effectiveness has long been a subject of debate for learning and safety professionals. This situation goes beyond the debate of online training and into the discussion of whether OSHA violates the very principals of a free market economy by trying to control the training space. Typically, more competition leads to higher quality products and better pricing for the consumer. OSHA should be able to set the requirements that online training providers should meet, and make those requirements as strict as they deem necessary, however, any vendor that meets the requirements should be able to offer the training. Some may argue that online training is easier to regulate from a quality and technical accuracy standpoint than classroom training.
What do you think…Should OSHA be allowed to limit the number of safety training providers that offer the training? As a consumer, as long as the vendor meets the requirements, should you not have the freedom of choice? What impact would a ruling in OSHA’s favor have on general compliance training?
Options are a good thing. Evolved Safety can help you complete your OSHA 10 & 30 hour training online or onsite. We’d love to chat with you about your needs. Give us a call, toll-free at 844.528.4486 or visit www.evolvedsafety.com today!
Bureau of National Affairs Occupational Safety & Health Reporter, 8/6/2015, Judge Rules Against OSHA’s Online Training Request