P4A Susan Harwood Safety Trainings Reach American Water and Consumers Energy

P4A successfully trains workers through Susan Harwood training grants

In 2015, P4A was awarded an OSHA Susan Harwood safety training grant to train workers in hazards associated with construction.  Initially, P4A planned to train 40 trainers and 400 employees during 2016.  Beginning in May 2016, P4A trained 58 UWUA members to be trainers at American Water and Consumers Energy.  These 58 trainers spent most of August and September training over 750 of their fellow UWUA brothers and sisters as well as front line supervisors, senior field leaders and executive management employees across both companies.  “It’s exciting to see that this Susan Harwood safety grant has reached over 800 people in a short amount of time.  This grant has helped to emphasize the importance of safety when it comes to Struck-By and Caught In-Between hazards that exist in the workplace today,” said Jon Harmon, executive director with P4A.

Members from American Water in Peoria, IL, top, and Champaign, IL, bottom, are the first water workers to receive training through Power for America, thanks to the OSHA Susan Harwood grant.

Members from American Water in Peoria, IL, top, and Champaign, IL, bottom, are the first water workers to receive training through Power for America, thanks to the OSHA Susan Harwood grant.

Along with Harmon, Adrian Duenas, vice president and treasurer of Local 18007, held three, 3-day workshops that trained UWUA members to be trainers back in their workplace.  Many of the individuals had no previous experience as trainers. “It’s exciting to see UWUA brothers and sisters take responsibility for the safety training at their company,” Duenas said.  After the workshop, the new trainers were expected to train one class of peers back at their local workplace.  Aksorn Hongthong and Brendan Cross, UWUA members with New York American Water, shared that they were nervous at first but as the class got going, they became more comfortable and the class went really well.

UWUA members Scott Brewer and Gretchen Benhardt trained a group of Missouri American Water employees.  Gretchen shared that all of the participants enjoyed the safety training because it emphasized the experience that UWUA members and company management had in the room.  She felt that the peer-to-peer training model made the topic of safety more important to the participants. While peer-led, the training allowed the participants to discuss safety within each company rather than listening to an outside presenter talk about training.

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“We are pleased to be participating in the Systems of Safety Training with the UWUA,” said Bill Komianos, sr. director of Health and Safety with American Water. “Our union trainers have shown their passion for safety and have done an excellent job leading the classes.  The trainers, as well as the course content, have been well received by both employees and management.”

Successful results were also  seen at Consumers Energy in Michigan with UWUA members in the Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program.  Over the course of nine days, 450 individuals went through this peer-led training at the Birch Run, Wixom and Bellevue headquarters.

Due to the success of the trainings this year, the OSHA Susan Harwood training grant was awarded to P4A for a second year.  With trainings already scheduled, P4A has set a new goal of training 50 new trainers and 600 employees at P4A contributing employers in 2017.