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KNOXVILLE — Tennessee workers and employers now can find qualified safety and health training closer to home.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has selected the University of Tennessee to serve as an OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Center.

North Carolina State University and the UT Center for Industrial Services (CIS) will deliver OSHA-certified training through the newly approved Region IV OTI Education Center. The U.S. Department of Labor chose the two universities based on their occupational safety and health experience, continuing education training background, classroom and laboratory capacity, and the ability to provide training throughout the region.

CIS is an agency of the statewide UT Institute for Public Service and has provided specialized safety training for Tennessee industries for about 15 years. Among CIS’ key health and safety programs are courses for hazardous waste site workers and emergency responders. CIS also offers instruction in general industry and construction industry safety and delivers hospital domestic preparedness training.

“Training provided by OTI Education Centers serves the public by teaching (workers and employers) to recognize, avoid, and prevent unsafe and unhealthful working,” said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Labor. “We expect UT’s training efforts to contribute to our overall workplace safety and health mission.”

There are fewer than 30 nonprofit consortiums and organizations currently serving as OTI Education Centers. The OTI Education Centers program was created in 1992 to authorize non-OSHA agencies to provide training in the private sector. OTI Education Centers trained more than 27,000 people during fiscal year 2007, representing an all-time record for the program. OSHA provides no funding to the education centers. They support their OSHA training through their normal tuition and fee structures.

“By adding additional qualified organizations to the program, we are providing local communities with greater availability and access to quality safety and health training,” Foulke said. “These centers will extend access to a greater number of individuals who seek to incorporate OSHA safety and health practices into their workplaces.”

OTI Education Centers provide the OSHA Outreach Training Program, OSHA’s primary means of training employees in the basics of occupational safety and health. Train-the-trainer courses are available in topic areas such as construction, general industry, disaster site and maritime. Individuals who complete a one-week OSHA trainer course are authorized to teach 10-hour or 30-hour courses on safety and health hazards, and in-house trainers can issue OSHA cards for classes in which they are credentialed. These trainers offer a great deal of insight on how the training benefits their staff specifically.

Queena Jones, (865) 974-1533,