Safety vs. Profit: What the Valor Indictment Says About Online Training
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Safety vs. Profit: What the Valor Indictment Says About Online Training

Safety vs. Profit: What the Valor Indictment Says About Online Training

April 23, 2024

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In New York City, construction cranes stand as symbols of change, for better and worse: they represent both the prosperity of growth, and the realization that the old and iconic skyline is no longer adequate as the city rushes towards its future. 

There’s a metaphor there, but it’s probably too nuanced for a software company’s blog. So let’s leave it at this: progress contains multitudes. And too often, the lofty ideals of growth at any cost create tension with the values that anchor us. 

Why are we talking about this? In New York, as in cities around the world, beneath the façade of development lies a troubling reality that, for some, profit takes precedence over human lives, and accountability is an afterthought. 

Yes, this all relates back to online training. Bear with us. 

This past February, New York-based construction training provider, Valor Security and Investigations, alongside six of its executives, was indicted on charges that the company issued “thousands and thousands of safety certificates and cards without providing any training at all," according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The charges stem from a Nov. 2022 incident in which construction worker Ivan Frias fell to his death from the 15th floor of a job site on West End Avenue. Frias, who was safety certified and had, ostensibly, completed an 8 hour fall prevention course, was one of more than 20,000 Valor-certified workers who allegedly received little or no actual safety training. 

Valor’s website, which is currently ‘under construction’ but can be accessed via the Wayback Machine, boasts a wide catalog of training courses catering to the construction and security industries. According to the archived site, the company was founded in 2017 and “is based on confidentiality, professionalism, and a belief that our clients' needs and satisfaction are of the utmost importance.”

Frais’ death, and the subsequent indictment, serve as a stark reminder that failing to hold online training to a high standard is far from a victimless crime. Too often, employers seek cheaper or more convenient — if not outright fraudulent — alternatives to verified training. At the heart of this is a belief that safety training is an unnecessary expense rather than a crucial investment in the well-being of their workers.   

Training companies can be complicit in this, too. They can focus on demand for cheap, easy training, and prioritize profits over the integrity of their programs. Valor’s alleged fraud may be an extreme example of this, but it’s indicative of a broader myopia towards the real, life-saving value safety training delivers.

This attitude then trickles down to the workers themselves. Disillusioned by a system that places little value on their safety, many opt to skip training altogether, further perpetuating this cycle of negligence. This puts them — and those around them — at serious risk as they navigate hazardous construction sites without the necessary skills and knowledge to protect themselves. 

Meaningful Reform Is Needed Now 

As we grapple with the fallout of the Valor indictment, it is clear that meaningful reform is urgently needed. Regulatory agencies must strengthen oversight measures, and codify what the courts have stated — that for safety training to be valid, it must involve verification of the worker’s identity and participation. 

Employers must recognize the inherent value of investing in the safety and well-being of their workforce, understanding that cutting corners comes at a grave cost.

Moreover, we must challenge the prevailing notion that safety training is a checkbox to be ticked off without regard for its efficacy. It is not enough to simply go through the motions; true safety culture demands active engagement and unwavering commitment to ensuring the well-being of every worker.

As we move forward, let us recommit ourselves to the fundamental principle that every worker has the right to return home safely at the end of each day. Anything less is a betrayal of trust and a grave injustice to those who put their lives on the line in the name of progress. It is time to confront the hidden dangers of online training and demand accountability for the sake of all workers.