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Health and Safety as a Career Path for Laborers

In the past, workers who wanted to take on a safety role in construction might progress from an OSHA 30-hour course to an OSHA 500-hour or 510 course. In the last few years, several programs that were started as a way to give workers the tools to recognize hazards on the job have increasingly become pathways for career advancement.

Walter Jones, Director of the Fund’s Occupation Safety & Health Division, recently hosted the LHSFNA’s fourth vodcast episode (now live on our YouTube channel) to find out more about these programs and how they can offer LIUNA members and other workers a pathway to grow their skills and build a career in the field of health and safety.

Foundations for Safety Leadership (FSL)

Jane Viscolosi, Health & Safety Representative, New England Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund, joined the episode to discuss Foundations for Safety Leadership, a program developed by the CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. This program teaches participants five skills to support effective safety leadership:

  • Leading by example
  • Engaging and empowering team members
  • Active listening and practicing three-way communication
  • Developing team members through teaching, coaching and feedback
  • Recognizing team members for a job well-done

These “soft skills” could benefit anyone in the workforce, but are especially important for construction supervisors, foremen and lead workers. FSL was added as an elective course in OSHA 30-hour training in 2017, and to date over 100,000 workers nationwide have taken the course.

Safety Certification for Transportation Project Professionals (SCTPP)

Brad Sant, Senior Vice President of Safety & Education, ARTBA, discussed the Safety Certification for Transportation Project Professionals, a program designed especially for workers in the field of roadway construction. This program focuses on two aspects of safety that can sometimes be at odds in roadway construction – traffic control to protect the traveling public and steps to protect the safety of workers. Reconciling the safety needs of both groups is a critical skill for construction supervisors, foremen and other lead workers in this industry.

Safety Trained Supervisor

Carl Heinlein, President of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), capped off the episode by detailing the BCSP Safety Trained Supervisor (STS) program. The STS program was created to help supervisors in the field view their jobs through a safety lens and coordinate with safety personnel such as certified safety professionals (CSPs) on site. Over 7,000 workers have taken this course and received their STS certification.

Opening Up Career Opportunities for Laborers

Programs like these are an opportunity for LIUNA members who are interested in safety and health but didn’t see a career path there previously. While each program covers different material, the goal of all three is to create supervisors, foremen and lead workers who understand the fundamentals of safety. Everyone wants to watch out for their team and make sure no one gets hurt, whether they are responsible for the safety of a small crew or the entire project.

Professionally, these programs can open up doors for workers with construction contractors because they demonstrate a commitment not only to safety, but to a worker’s career in construction. Many contractors are now sponsoring workers to go through programs like the SCTPP and STS, including paying for program fees and renewal fees.

“We’re watching the impact in the field every day for the individuals who go through these programs. Safety is a core part of building better leaders,” said Heinlein. “We’ve seen workers who weren’t in a supervisory position yet take the STS, then end up becoming a safety professional for the contractor or moving on to another company.”

To learn more about these programs, check out the Fund’s latest vodcast episode on our YouTube channel.

[Nick Fox]

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