Abigail Livingston recalls that the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was a strange time to get a new job as administrative assistant for the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT), but when she heard about the opportunity, she decided to apply. The work aligned with many of her natural interests — she can tell the whole office really cares about the health of the members, and she’s happy to be a part of the initiatives and services.

She is “very interested in the health side” of the job, including the screenings SMOHIT offers, the 24-hour HelpLine, and the Steps Challenge.

This dedication helped her get through the challenges of learning a new job from home, challenges her supervisor, SMOHIT Administrator Randall Krocka, said she has more than met.

“She has been just fantastic in learning and in taking initiatives to learn the job,” Krocka said. “She has real care and concern for our members’ safety and health, which is the number-one thing with me.”

SMOHIT’s efforts to focus not just on physical well-being but mental health as well is an aspect of her job she is especially interested in, noting that the SMOHIT 24-Hour HelpLine, videos and website resources aimed at helping members recognize mental health issues put this industry above others that ignore that aspect of health and safety, she said.

Livingston is responsible for many administrative duties, such as billing, invoicing and receipts, as well as some seasonal health outreach activities. She helped organize the spring Steps Challenge immediately after hiring on, and she will handle even more of the fall Steps Challenge, getting members registered, helping set up and sync devices, and offering reward tiers for participants.

“I’ve been in the job now for about seven months, and I really enjoy it. It was kind of unusual to learn everything from home, during this crazy time, but it came easier than I thought it would,” Livingston said. “I’m really fascinated at all the ways we have to help people, like the screenings, the Steps Challenge, the website and videos, and the HelpLine.”

Livingston has been attending classes at Northern Virginia Community College, and she plans to transfer to James Madison University and earn a degree in biology. She lives with her family and two cats in Manassas, Virginia.

SMOHIT, a fund of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers, 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 operate on four separate but related tracks: monitoring and documenting the health of sheet metal workers as it relates to workplace exposures and hazards; providing safety information and training related to best safety practices on and off the job; acting as an aggressive advocate for the health and safety of its members with government and through likeminded allied organizations; and providing diet and exercise information to address the health and wellness of its members.

SMOHIT has adjusted its methods and messages to reflect feedback from local unions and the industry, and to address new safety challenges as they arise. For more information on SMOHIT, visit smohit.org or call 703-739-7130.

Originally posted on Eye on Sheet Metal