First Hawkeye safety conference held


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More than 400 professionals in the fields of construction, architecture, health, and safety from across Iowa convened in the Coralville Marriott convention center Wednesday to receive training and education on workplace safety.

Seminars were offered on all manner of topics including: Silica — Don’t Get Dumped On, Fall Protection 101, Designing and Building Clean, rigging, and Infection Control Risk Assessment. 

“I hope they go back to their jobs and use what they’ve learned,” said Tom Kavicky, event sponsor and member of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters.

Megan Meyer, University of Iowa continuing education coordinator at the Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety, said the UI became involved in the event because of the large amount of construction happening on campus.

Members of UI Facilities Management and contractors working across the campus were in attendance.

Conference goers had a chance to network with a number of companies involved in safety equipment and services like 3M, which were displaying everything from protective gloves to on-site drug testing kits.

Keynote speaker Brandon Shroeder, safety director at Nelson Electric, gave a talk on how his mistake in neglecting basic safety precautions almost seriously injured him. 

He said he nearly lost his hand because he was not wearing protective gear when he accidentally caused an explosion. He said he had to endure more than a year of physical therapy.

“You only get one chance to do things safely, and if you don’t, it’s all over,” he said.

Brent Anderson of UI Facilities Management praised Shroeder’s talk as an example of how important the everyday minutiae of safety is on job sites.

“We’ve got to change our own personal cultures,” he said. “We don’t just jump into things.”

John Grzywacz and Frank Perrino, who are both Occupational Safety and Health Administration emeritus professors, focused on innovative ways of training workers in safety procedures.

Perrino and Grzywacz emphasized that the engagement of the trainee in the training process is crucial to success.

Their biggest point was for the trainer not to only talk about the training techniques but to do some form of modeling. 

To make their point they led the conference in a couple training exercises of their own which utilized scientific concepts, questions to the audience and live displays of controlled explosions.

Effective use of instructional and dynamic media in the training process was their other key highlight. 

Grzywacz shared his own personal philosophies on effective PowerPoint presentations and video use.

“As soon as I hit that slide, I want the video to start rolling,” he said.

Kavicky appreciated the updates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration presented at the conference, but said he feels that there is room for the conference to expand even more next year.

“I’d like to see [the conference] get into more intermediate and advanced topics,” he said.

Business representative Scott Smith was hoping for a slightly larger attendance but was satisfied with the way the conference went overall.

“The No. 1 thing on a construction site is safety, not production,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”

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