OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) cleanup contractor UCOR and the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9-288 have partnered for the last three years to cultivate a new generation of environmental cleanup workers by providing free training to east Tennessee high schools.
This year, UCOR and USW supplemented that training with a new course: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Industry Outreach Training. The class is drawing people interested in training for the challenging hazardous waste response field.
Students from the Tennessee School for the Deaf in Knoxville, Tennessee were among the first members of the class and completed the training earlier this month. The school provides an inclusive learning environment for deaf and hard-of-hearing students from toddlers through age 22.
While the class required oral interpreters to sign to the students, the classroom environment differed little from classes in past years.
“The interpreters did an amazing job, and the students were very engaged and receptive,” said class instructor Billy Edington, who works for UCOR and is also the USW Local 9-288 president.
The course offers an introduction to OSHA policies, procedures, and standards. Participants received an OSHA general industry safety and health 10-hour course completion card from the U.S. Department of Labor. Edington noted that the certification gives the students an advantage as they transition to the workplace.
Since 2016, UCOR and USW have offered free hazardous waste operations and emergency response and general industry training to hundreds of students in area rural counties. This is made possible through a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences DOE Outreach grant.
“With the amount of cleanup scope that remains on the Oak Ridge Reservation, we are excited that our contractors and labor unions are looking ahead, preparing, and taking steps to ensure that a new generation of environmental workers is available,” said OREM Manager Jay Mullis.