Kent State University at Geauga
August 31, 2023 by Staff Report

Kent State University at Geauga is offering a free pilot training program for small businesses in underserved rural communities to help ensure safe and healthy workplaces...

Free OSHA Trainings for Small Businesses

Kent State University at Geauga is offering a free pilot training program for small businesses in underserved rural communities to help ensure safe and healthy workplaces. As part of its ongoing leadership commitment to regional workforce development, Kent State Geauga is now accepting registrations for training sessions scheduled through mid-September.

The workplace safety training has been made possible through a 100-percent federally-funded $74,193 grant from OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grants Program. Lance Williams, director of operations and special projects at Kent State Geauga, co-wrote the successful grant application with associate professors of biological sciences Sanhita Gupta and Dr. Erin Bailey.

The cost-free training sessions are designed to better protect underserved and hard-to-reach workers from illness and injury and help foster a sense of safety and well-being, ultimately leading to improved worker engagement and productivity. Specifically, the training will help provide critical information about updated chemical safety standards and strategies to better prevent workplace violence. After completing these trainings, local businesses in construction, agriculture and service sectors in rural communities should see improved overall worker safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is part of the United States Department of Labor. While many Geauga County workplaces are small businesses, they are required to meet OSHA regulations to keep their employees safe from workplace hazards. The new training is ideal for small-business employers and workers in high-hazard industries to ensure compliance with updated OSHA standards.

Utilizing their knowledge and expertise in laboratory training and development, Kent State Geauga faculty from the biological sciences designed the OSHA training program to be engaging, effective and learner-centered. In order to accommodate worker schedules, some sessions feature in-person training at KSU Geauga in Burton while others are online synchronous sessions via Zoom technology.

Dr. Bailey adds that each training session is a stand-alone class, and “each participant will receive a Kent State certificate of completion. We are offering multiple dates for training to try to accommodate as many workers as possible.”

Ideal training participants are non-governmental Geauga County small businesses and organizations with fewer than 250 workers (except self-employed/sole proprietors). Workers can attend the sessions individually or in groups. Middle managers and business owners can also take advantage of the training and use provided materials to train additional workers within their organization using the train-the-trainer model.

The training sessions are designed to fill a void, protecting both the workplace and the community at large.

Williams says, “The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program prides itself in expanding training access to workers who otherwise may not receive safety training on a wide array of relevant safety topics. Our decision to offer training in Workplace Violence Prevention was informed by a needs assessment conducted with area businesses. Analysis of the data suggested a need for this type of training in the county, and by using our faculty as subject matter experts, we believe we can positively impact worker safety in organizations that participate in our training.”

Prof. Gupta adds, “Safety training is known to increase awareness among employees and reduce work-related injury and illness. Both safety trainings that are being offered will educate workers about the hazards that they could encounter in the workplace and the ways of managing those most effectively. Susan Harwood funding helps us provide these training sessions to workers in the county at no cost.”

This type of community engagement speaks to Kent State Geauga’s sense of commitment to the region. Williams says, “As the only institution of higher education in Geauga County, Kent State possesses a world-class faculty that has extensive experience in training and development, laboratory safety, and instruction. Both Sanhita Gupta (project director) and Erin Bailey (grant personnel) have worked and trained in research labs that are subject to safety compliance measures. They would like to bring this expertise to workers and businesses at large.”

For information, including session topics, dates and times, or to register, visit Or contact Professor Gupta at with any questions.