Phoenixville, PA – There was an added emphasis on safety first at the Center for Arts & Technology (CAT) Pickering Campus every Friday afternoon beginning in March. That’s because a group of 17 students stayed after school to bolster their knowledge of safety in the workplace by earning their Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The 10-hour occupational hazard awareness training was recommended for students by the CAT Pickering Safety Committee. Drew Jacobs, CAT Pickering Sustainable Energy Engineering instructor and OSHA authorized trainer, facilitated the course. At the conclusion of 10 training hours, 13 students earned their certification.
“Safety needs to be a habit,” said Pamela Hacker, a local electrician who visited the class as a guest speaker. “It’s a brutal atmosphere out there, challenging both mentally and physically. You need to stay focused.”
Hacker added that in the same way that brushing your teeth, combing your hair, getting dressed and coming to school are all habits, safety must also become something that is practiced daily.
Armed with their OSHA 10 certification, those students who spent their Friday afternoons learning how to recognize worksite hazards intend to do just that as they move ahead to become the electricians, carpenters and engineers of tomorrow.
According to Jacobs, the free program was tailored to young workers. Whether by changing students' habits in their current workplace or highlighting what to be aware of in the future, Jacobs said the overall goal was to open their eyes to the hazards that exist in the workplace.
Topics included personal protective equipment, health hazards like asbestosis and hearing loss, electrical hazards including downed powerlines and frayed cords, material storage of flammable and corrosive substances and the importance of hazardous communications like material safety data sheets, signs, labels and training.
“Workplace violence was an eye-opener for most of them as it is the leading cause of death among young workers, ages 14-21,” said Jacobs. “The causes and prevention of workplace violence, I think, will be at the forefront of their awareness as they proceed with their first jobs.”
He added that OSHA 10 certification could make the difference in securing employment. “If they have somebody applying for a job that already has been trained, it saves the company money,” said Jacobs. “Plus, they know that this person is aware of hazards and therefore can actually save the company money in the long run.”
That competitive edge is what drew Tanya Curtis, an eleventh-grader in the carpentry program from Owen J. Roberts School District, to the after-school OSHA 10 program.
“I learned a lot about all the hazards that are around us and what could be potentially bad for us in the work field,” she said. “I think it makes me a safer person just because I know how to identify the hazards when a lot of people don’t even realize that they are hazards.”
OSHA 10 trained job applicants are coveted by employers that recognize the value of young employees who understand the benefits of a hazard-free, accident-free, cost effective workplace. A workplace that is safer for all workers, especially young workers, is more cost effective in terms of reducing time and funding for employee training, while increasing awareness of potential OSHA violations and limiting possible citations and fines. To learn more about the OSHA outreach training program, please click here.
The Center for Arts & Technology (CAT) Pickering Campus is a comprehensive, public high school specializing in career and technical education. Students in grades 9-12 attend on a full- or part-time basis (as determined by their home school district). CAT Pickering prepares students for success in college, in the workplace and in life. All of its career and technical programs are high-priority occupations, aligned to Pennsylvania State Standards, as well as national industry certifications. CAT Pickering serves students in the Great Valley, Owen J. Roberts, Phoenixville Area and Treddyfrin-Easttown School Districts.
Photo Caption:A group of 17 students stayed after school at the Center for Arts & Technology (CAT) Pickering campus every Friday afternoon beginning in March to bolster their knowledge of safety in the workplace by earning their Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. Pictured above (from left to right), are students who participated in the program: Front Row - Dylan Curran, 11th grade student in the Engine Technology program; Milayna Johnson, 10th grade student in the Culinary Arts program; Kara Misero, 10th grade student in the Health Occupations program; Helen Burdeau, 10th grade student in the Early Childhood Care & Education program; Sydni Gajewski, 10th grade student in the Criminal Justice program; Jessica Paski, 10th grade student in the Health Occupations program; and Taylor Quay, 11th grade student in the Culinary Arts program. Back Row - Andrew Jacobs, CAT Pickering Sustainable Energy Engineering instructor and OSHA program trainer; Josh Famous, 10th grade student in the Criminal Justice program; Matt Cress, 10th grade student in the Automotive Service Technology program; Christian Mitchell, 11th grade student in the Electronic Systems Technology program; and Tanya Curtis, 11th grade student in the Carpentry program. Participants not pictured: Walter Heizenroth, 12th grade student in the Electronic Systems Technology program; Donovan Robinson, 12th grade student in the Culinary Arts program; and Ryan DeVogel, 12th grade student in the Automotive Service Technology program.