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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

June 2018

National Trainers Exchange draws health, safety professionals together

Trainers from across the country present 99 sessions with small versions of their training programs.

The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP), in collaboration with the Western Region Universities Consortium, hosted its seventh National Trainers’ Exchange May 10-11 in Phoenix, Arizona. The event welcomed more than 300 participants from WTP grantee organizations across the nation, as well as their affiliated trainers and health and safety professionals.

Guided by the theme “Looking to the Future, Generational Transitions,” the event featured speakers who shared personal stories, historical perspectives, and the collective success of the WTP to inspire the next generation of trainers.

“It is important for us to share our stories, values, and experiences, and how they have defined us,” said WTP Director Joseph “Chip” Hughes during the welcome. “These stories are key to ensuring the success of the program for the future.”


During the opening session of the event, retired worker trainer Pam Tau Lee from the Labor Occupational Health Program inspired event participants with anecdotes related to worker justice and community involvement.

Personal fall arrest systems demo The International Union of Operating Engineers National Training Fund organized workshop demonstrations of personal fall arrest systems for construction workers. (Photo courtesy of Betsy Galluzzo, MDB, Inc.)

“We do our best to make sure workers get home safely, and that they don’t leave their rights at the door,” Lee said. “We make sure that employers put health and safety above production, and that workers have a voice that can be harnessed for the betterment of their job site and community.”

Aurora Le, a WTP newcomer and program coordinator for the grantee consortium based at Indiana University at Bloomington, shared her confidence in the next generation of trainers. “We have so much to learn from those who came before us,” she said. “Nonetheless, we will forge ahead and continue to prepare trainers and workers for whatever life brings.”

Hands-on workshops and product sharing

Participants gathered in concurrent workshop sessions and roundtable exercises to exchange information on best practices and to discover new training techniques, tools, and resources.

Sessions included discussions on training the millennial generation, addressing opioid exposure as an emerging issue for worker health and safety, and other topics. Some hands-on activities featured demonstrating harness techniques to prevent falls, exhibiting biohazard safety methods for putting on and removing personal protective equipment, displaying triage techniques, and evaluating disaster casualties, using teddy bears.

Attendees using video game training Spectral Labs, Inc. and Southwestern College developed a video game that uses realistic environments to train HAZMAT workers on procedures. (Photo courtesy of Kenda Freeman, MDB, Inc.)

Grantees from the Small Business and Innovation Research E-Learning for HAZMAT Program demonstrated the usefulness of their products to trainers throughout the event, sharing ways that new computer-based applications, mobile devices, or virtual reality tools could be used to engage workers in health and safety training.

Voices of the future

The event closed with narratives from a panel of speakers who represent the next generation of trainers and voices of the future.

Participants convened in small groups to discuss new hazards or challenges to expect, such as opioid exposure, mental health issues, and political dynamics. Conversations also included a number of resources that WTP needs to address these challenges.

Salcedo, Fitch and Arreaza From left to right, grantees Eunice Salcedo, Ashlee Fitch, Marianela Acuna Arreaza, and Arturo Archila led an inspirational closing panel. (Photo courtesy of Kenda Freeman, MDB, Inc.)

In another small group activity, participants submitted phrases that gave them hope for the future. The phrases were used to develop a word cloud, which highlighted key words, such as education, millennials, solidarity, equity, activists, and leaders.

“As we take on new challenges, we have to continue the forward movement that we have built,” said Arturo Archila from the Steelworkers Charitable and Education Organization. “As soon as we begin to constrain ourselves, we will begin to constrain the movement.”

(Kenda Freeman is a research and communication specialist for MDB, Inc., a contractor for the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training.)

International Union, United Autoworkers Locals 600 and 974 of the International Union, United Autoworkers (UAW) shared a tabletop model that demonstrated different rigging and lifting processes for workers at manufacturing facilities.
Man flying a drone A workshop participant tests his drone-flying skills during a construction safety session organized by the International Union of Operating Engineers National Training Fund.
New Jersey/New York Hazardous Materials Worker Training Center team Representatives from the New Jersey/New York Hazardous Materials Worker Training Center pose for a group photo during lunch.
Western Region Universities Consortium team The Western Region Universities Consortium team, which collaborated with WTP to host the event, pose for a group photo.
Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization and United Steelworkers Tony Mazzocchi Center teams Members of the Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization and United Steelworkers Tony Mazzocchi Center were happy to attend the event and network with other trainers.
Jennifer Lastra Jennifer Lastra, standing, from 360 Immersive, LLC, led a roundtable exercise to demonstrate the applicability of virtual reality simulations for health and safety training.
stuffed teddy bear The Alabama Fire College Workplace Safety Training Program used stuffed teddy bears to demonstrate the effectiveness of a mass casualty incident triage course.
University of Alabama Deep South Worker Training Program The University of Alabama Deep South Biosafety Worker Training Program led a training demo on personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals.

Promoting grantee training

The WTP continues to promote awareness of grantee training efforts through various reports and other materials. For example, a recent report developed by WTP and the National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training summarizes training accomplishments for grantees’ work with Native American tribes and Alaska Natives during 2015-2017.

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