Safety training can lead to additional work above the surface of nation’s mines
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – When sheet metal workers think of their industry, the idea of working on a mine job site rarely comes to mind. Across the nation, more and more jobs are available for the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry on surface mine job sites, and they are going unfilled because workers don’t possess the proper safety training. (While sheet metal workers have much safety training, it is in OSHA, which is not recognized by the mining industry.)
In May, three members from the International Training Institute (ITI), along with nine training coordinators from around the country, attended a course at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md. where they learned how to teach the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) Part 48, Subparts A and B safety course required to gain access to mining work opportunities.
By completing the course, training coordinators from mining states can organize classes to teach MSHA Part 48 compliance training to the industry. The three ITI instructors can travel to teach the course at training centers without MSHA-trained instructors.
The idea is to provide sheet metal workers the proper safety training to be able to do the jobs they already know how to do but in a different environment. Where the two industries meet is aboveground – exhaust systems for the mines and air conditioning in temporary or permanent buildings on the job site. Sheet metal workers also have the skills necessary to work on conveyor belts and complete industrial welding jobs.
There are currently jobs for sheet metal workers at mine sites in West Virginia, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania along with other mining states such as Colorado, Nevada, California, Minnesota and Virginia.
“We’re not training miners,” said Larry Lawrence, instructional development specialist for ITI, and course attendee. “We’re creating sheet metal workers who can work on a mine site.”
When contractors know their local sheet metal workers union offers MSHA safety training, they can feel more free to bid on jobs where the training is required. The course not only benefits the workers, but the contractors reap the rewards of the training as well.
“There are work opportunities out there and they are being ignored. With this training, it’s brought to their attention,” said Gary Batykefer, administrative director of the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT). “It’s a way of expanding our market share a bit more.”
The Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) was founded in 1986 to address the impact of decades-long asbestos exposure on those working in the sheet metal industry. To date, more than 55,000 sheet metal workers have been screened as part of its ongoing Asbestos Screening Program.
SMOHIT has since expanded its mission to include health and safety training products, health and safety training curriculum, and health and safety services. SMOHIT works directly with the International Training Institute (ITI) to offer the training programs.
For more information on SMOHIT, visit www.smohit.org or call 703-739-7130.