Breaking News
More () »

How Midlands companies can get industry-specific safety training during OSHA's Safe + Sound Week

The nationwide event lasts through Friday and can provide 20-30 different types of industry-specific safety training, according to Sharon Dumit with SC OSHA.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — This week is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Safe + Sound Week. The virtual event is happening across the nation this week and there are 61 companies participating in South Carolina so far.

Pyramid Contracting is one of the businesses here in the Midlands participating in the training. On Thursday, the team will learn about preventing heat-related illnesses.

"It gets so hot. I mean, you don’t have to move, you don’t have to think and you’re sweating," said Mike Harkness, a construction engineer for the company.

RELATED: Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke

He and his coworkers are working in this Columbia heat, so safety director Mike Moss wants to make sure they’re safe.

"Basically because of the heat index we’ve had here in the past several months, we just want our guys out in the field to recognize and know what to do in the event that someone is overcome with heat illness," Moss told me.

To do this, the company will learn about heat prevention not only for themselves, but also for their co-workers. 

Lee Nichols is a project superintendent in charge of overviewing safety on a job site. He says they take heat "very seriously" because "our people are our absolute number one asset."

Nichols works alongside Jim Ott, a senior project manager. 

"Everyone right down to the newest person on the job site’s responsible for safety," Ott explained.

So what does that mean?

"Our employees actually monitor each other because we work together everyday," Nichols said. "We understand different personalities and we’re able to recognize when someone is acting a little out of character."

Sharon Dumit with South Carolina OSHA says safety training about what heat illness signs and symptoms to look for is important.

RELATED: UPS delivery trucks don’t have air conditioning

This education is one of the nearly 30 types of trainings that businesses can participate in, Dumit says. 

"Each site does something a little different," she said. "Whatever motivates their workers is [the training] they want to try to do."

Phillip Perry is a health and safety coordinator for Nucor Buildings Group South Carolina. His company is using this training to consolidate new hire training and make it consistent throughout the business's different locations.

Specifically, Nucor is working with OSHA this week on "extensive outreach training" which Perry says gives an employee "good general background about what they need to know to be successful," which covers topics from crane use to fall protection. 

"For us, it’s about our culture where safety is a value. It’s not a priority to us," Perry detailed. "It’s not a priority because your priorities can change depending on what’s going on, but to us it’s a value. It doesn’t change. We never put our production in front of our safety."

Whether it's training on heat prevention or safety outreach to new hires, the goal of each type remains the same. To keep workers safe.

"There is nothing on this job site - and never will be - worth somebody’s life," Nichols said.

RELATED: Workers claim company exposed them to cancer-causing chemicals

Nichols hopes that this training will be a good resource to learn something new, and brush up on old protocol.

"We want to get everyone on board and show them through our training that this is an important issue," Moss explained. "This is something we really need to address."

For employees like Harkness, knowing that the team is attending this training is assuring.

"It makes me feel good because I know I can continue to do my job and everything will be 100," he said. "Nobody’s getting hurt, I won’t be hurt, my team won’t be hurt, so we can continue to push on and get the job done."

Not only is safety "paramount," according to Dumit, but it can also have other benefits.

"Safety is paramount when it comes to morale," she added. "It even affects the bottom-line, the productivity."

Safe + Sound week runs through Friday and it’s not too late to sign up. To learn about how to register and tailor training that makes sense for your industry, you can visit OSHA.gov/SafeAndSoundWeek.

Dumit also says SC OSHA has outreach and education, which includes free consultation and free on-site training for small and medium employers. For more information, visit osha.llr.sc.gov.

Before You Leave, Check This Out