Safety Training: Bridging the Gap in Safety Management

By Sara Schuttloffel

The Ironworker Safety Director Training Course (IWSDTC) revolutionizes safety management on the jobsite. It was developed to address incident trends and improve the standard of safety performance. Funded by IMPACT, the Iron Workers’ (IW) ironworker-employer partnership, it was launched in response to contractors, owners and safety consulting firms expressing interest in employing ironworkers who have hands-on experience and are qualified to manage safety duties and responsibilities as a company safety director.

It takes special safety training and new skill sets to assume the role of a corporate safety director and man-age safety programs for companies. The course focuses on routine safety responsibilities that are set forth by federal, state or provincial, local and contractual standards. Participants learn about the responsibilities of a safety director from subject matter experts.

Project owners and contractors find the course extremely valuable in terms of preventing injuries and fatalities on the jobsite and reducing costly delays.

“We don’t want our workers to rely on the contractors to provide safety training,” said Chris Fought from General Motors at the Iron Workers-IMPACT Safety and Health Roundtable held in Washington, D.C., during December 2017. “I’m really glad that the Iron Workers prepare their workers with productive training courses like the Ironworker Safety Director Training.”

Ironworkers make the best safety directors as they have hands-on experience in doing the work they manage and have an intimate understanding of the hazards. It allows them to combine their work experience with new safety skills.

“Who better to take care of safety than an ironworker?” asked IW executive director of safety and health Steve Rank. “They know the job and they know the dangers and we have them bridge that gap between safety and the workers.”

Many course graduates have become successful company safety directors across the United States and Canada.

“Having the opportunity to be an ironworker safety director and overseeing safety is a huge responsibility that I take very seriously,” said Dave Otey, a 30-year ironworker veteran, IWSDC instructor and the regional safety manager for Rebar International Inc. “To have the opportunity to apply 30 years of experience, all those best practices I have learned over the years as an ironworker safety director and instructor is just incredible. It’s ironworkers leading ironworkers and they respect each other.”

“Safety is everyone’s job,” said IW general president Eric Dean while addressing the class offered in Toronto, Ontario last year. “We want every ironworker to go home safe every day and we think it’s a realistic expectation. I can’t think of a better way to do it than ironworkers looking after ironworkers.”

Indeed, safety is everyone’s job. The only way to effectively enforce safety regulations is to make it a part of the culture where everyone feels invested and ironworker safety directors are driving that necessary cultural change. The IWSDC is now in its second year and has been a tremendous success, placing highly skilled ironworkers as company safety directors across the nation.

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