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The Beginning

The origins of Global OSHA began in the early 2000s when Jim Barnes joined the OSHA Directorate of Training and Education (DTE).  Ernest Thompson had initiated the OTI Education Center program in 1992 and, after a promotion, hired Jim to manage the program.  Hank Payne was the senior executive responsible for all OSHA training programs, including the OSHA Training Institute (OTI).  Don Guerra had already managed the Outreach Training Program for more than a decade.  The four enjoyed great success as they worked closely together on training policy and programs. 

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Growth and Change

The next few years were a time of considerable growth and significant change at DTE.  During the period 2002-2015, the OTI Education Center program grew from 11 organizations to more than 40.  Annual enrollment numbers saw increases which averaged in the double digits during this time period.  The Outreach Training Program added two targeted programs and saw its annual training numbers grow exponentially; topping 750,000 by 2015.  In 2006, Ernie Thompson was named Deputy Director and Jim Barnes was promoted to Director of Training Programs and Administration.  After 30 years of serving in field and management positions for OSHA, Charlie Shields joined DTE as the Director for the OSHA Training Institute in early 2007.   Jim, Hank, Charlie, Ernie, and Don worked together on various worker safety and health training programs.  They developed strong working relationships as they embraced emerging trends in safety and health training and addressed some complex issues. 

New Program Development

Along the way, these individuals spearheaded the development of several new programs and courses, and implemented key quality improvement measures.  This included new outreach training programs for disaster site workers and those in the maritime industry, as well as an outreach program for workers in the state of California.  It also included new courses on cranes in construction, oil and gas exploration and production, and pandemic flu.  They worked to implement blended learning, four-level training evaluation, more rigorous testing procedures, stronger controls for online outreach training, and enhanced instructor qualifications.  Their efforts were recognized with numerous awards from both OSHA and the Department of Labor.

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Representing OSHA with Global Stakeholders

During their time with OSHA, Hank and Jim both represented the agency in international partnerships and alliances on multiple occasions.  They worked together on the OSHA occupational safety and health initiative with Canada and Mexico to share best practices for worker training.  Under Hank's direction, OTI instructors conducted training sessions for compliance personnel for both Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Jim served as the OSHA liaison for international visitors to the Directorate of Training and Education.  Hank traveled to India to meet with government officials and direct on-site consultation and training for safety and health inspectors in both Faridabad and New Delhi in coordination with U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs.  


Hank represented OSHA at several joint EU-US conferences on OSH cooperation between the United States and the European Union including Portugal in 2007 and Belgium in 2012.  These conferences focused on advancing occupational safety and health and sharing best practices in areas such as safety and health training.  Jim joined Hank in representing OSHA at the sixth joint US-EU conference, titled "Critical Issues on Worker Health and Safety", which was held in September, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  They participated in the Safety and Health Knowledge Management working group.  Hank attended the World Safety Congress in 2002 and 2005, while Jim attended attended the World Safety Congress in 2005 and 2017.  Together, the pair gained considerable knowledge and experience working with the global safety and health community.   

Global Demand for OSHA Training Programs

In 2010, OSHA discontinued allowing its training programs to be conducted outside agency jurisdiction.  OTI Education Center courses and Outreach Training Program classes could not be conducted outside of OSHA's geographic  jurisdiction without special permission and advance notification.  This proved burdensome and effectively prevented all but a few classes to be held outside the U.S.  However, DTE continued to receive requests for OSHA training programs outside the U.S. on a regular basis.  Some requests were from U.S.-based companies; other requests were from companies that were simply familiar with the OSHA training programs.  Whatever the reason, the global demand for OSHA training programs remained very strong.

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The Concept for Global OSHA

By 2018, Jim and Hank were no longer with OSHA.  But they continued to have an interest in worker safety and health training.  Their ongoing discussions on the topic led them to consider ideas for launching a training organization based on their previous experience with OSHA.  Aware of the global demand for high quality occupational safety and health training, and mindful of their unique experience developing and delivering training programs for the U.S. Department of Labor, they developed the framework for Global OSHA.  This concept would allow them to use their expertise to develop a global network of authorized trainers who can conduct worker training worldwide; with no geographic limitations.

The Team

Through it all, Hank, Jim, Charlie, Ernie, and Don formed lasting friendships that endured even after all five had left OSHA.  So Jim and Hank invited their former colleagues to join them in the new venture and were able to bring together the former nucleus of the DTE senior management team.  With Global OSHA, they have roles similar to their OSHA positions; Ernie Thompson overseeing curriculum and partnerships; Charlie directing the instructors; and Don directing the Global Outreach Training Program.  These five colleagues, who also became friends, are now reunited at Global OSHA for a common goal - the advancement of worker safety and health worldwide.  For workers around the globe, this truly is a dream team for occupational safety and health training. 

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