Training center coordinators receive top safety honors

Houston, Detroit and Pittsburgh centers earn awards for programming

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – This fall, three coordinators from training centers across the United States were honored with Safety Awards from the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT). Annual recognition was awarded to Bill Yester, from JATC #12 in Pittsburgh; Stephen Murzen, from JATC #80 in Detroit and Richard Stanfield, from JATC #54 in Houston. The awards recognize outstanding contributions in expanding health and safety programs for sheet metal workers across the country.

“Nominees are selected from submissions from contractors, regional coordinators or their peers through the e-mail process or letter of recommendation,” said Gary Batykefer, administrative director of SMOHIT. “They are selected on their merit annually for exemplary training initiatives, outstanding program implementation or any safety initiative that requires recognition on a national level. These programs represent some of the best in the business.”

Yester, honored with the Fire Protection Award, brought his training center up to code for National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for electrical work, shared the information with other regional training centers and created classes to teach sheet metal workers safety when working around and with electrical panels. JATC #12 was one of the first to comply with NFPS 70E, which addresses electrical safety requirements for employee workplaces. The classes are now a part of the center’s apprenticeship, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and journeymen training programs.

“It’s a win-win for everybody involved,” Yester said. “It lets the membership know what injuries can happen when working with electricity. It also shows them how to protect themselves, how to calculate the risk. The better trained our workers are when contractors hire them, the safer they’re going to be. When all is said and done, if the contractor gets benefits – and they do – that’s good, but the workers certainly do, because they’re saving their own skin.”

Murzen and Stanfield were awarded the OSHA Training Award for innovative teaching of the OSHA guidelines for safety on the job site.

Murzen took training classes in Detroit one step further by offering accelerated courses which allowed sheet metal workers to attend at their convenience. For instance, classes have been offered at the rate of one night per week for 12 weeks; two nights a week for six weeks; and, for the unemployed, one solid week of instruction.

The classes were scheduled to allow all members to take advantage of opportunities, Murzen said.  “A lot of our members see the opportunity in the day class, night classes. We try to get as many of our members through to make them as marketable as we can.”

Stanfield changed with the OSHA requirements this year and offered OSHA30 (where OSHA10 was previously required). In Houston, journeymen receive 10 continuing education classes per year and apprentices finish their first year with OSHA10 training and American Red Cross CPR certification.

“We’re open arms to anyone who wants to get more training,” said Stanfield, whose training center # 54 has received the OSHA Training Award twice. “Safety is such a big issue these days; there is so much safety covered in each class. We always emphasize training in our shop and welding classes.”

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 45,000 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 or call 703-739-7130.