Workforce training teaches safety practices |

Workforce training teaches safety practices

Carrie Click
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Mountain College in Rifle.
Contributed Photo

College is not just a place where newly-graduated high school seniors go to earn an academic degree. Sometimes, college can offer educational opportunities to working men and women who can immediately apply that knowledge at the job site. And perhaps nowhere is that better illustrated than at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle.

Robin Haney is the energy industry training director at the Rifle campus. The courses she oversees are designed for those already employed in the energy industry, but also apply to workers in many other fields. These are courses that are meant to help companies comply with safety standards in order to keep their employees safe on the job.

Many of those courses comply with federal Occupational Safety and Health Act standards. Since its start in 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which falls under the U.S. Department of Labor, has ensured that safe and healthy practices are maintained in the workplace.

Although Haney’s title indicates that her focus is on the energy industry, CMC provides instruction to safeguard against occupational hazards of many types.

“My program is a workforce training program, and the OSHA-compliance training is just one category within the world of ‘workforce training’,” she said.

Around 20 safety training classes fill the roster at CMC in Rifle on a regular basis and additional classes are available on request as well. Classes that cover hazard recognition, safe driving, personal protective equipment, electrical safety, power tools, ladders and scaffolds, fall protection and much more provide the backbone of the program. Additionally, “soft skills training” – classes that round out the program – includes instruction in supervisory development, project management, communicating with others, time management, conflict resolution, computer proficiency and leadership.

In addition, Haney said the program holds classes at a CMC satellite facility in Parachute, and at the campus of Western Colorado Community College in Grand Junction. Classes can also be held at some clients’ locations. To make classes more accessible, CMC also offers a wide range of workforce development courses online.

One of the more popular courses offered by Colorado Mountain College for those specifically working in the energy industry is called SafeLand. Based on a similar program called SafeGulf for offshore oil drilling operations, SafeLand trains new and experienced industry workers how to recognize hazards, handle dangerous materials, safely operate equipment and more. SafeLand is recognized nationwide by many energy industry operators as a comprehensive “awareness level” safety training program. CMC acts as a training provider, offering the two-part course to workers seeking SafeLand certification.

Essentially, SafeLand is OSHA-compliance training for the oil and gas industry, Haney said. It’s a one-day class, and covers all the topics in a comparable OSHA class. Many oil and gas companies are accepting SafeLand courses for OSHA compliance, she added. For example, in Western Garfield County, Encana Oil & Gas (USA).

“Encana doesn’t permit people on well pads who haven’t completed worker safety training,” Haney said. “We trained a woman who just delivered bottled drinking water for dispensers at drilling sites. She wasn’t working on a rig. Still, she had to have safety training. All of the operators in the industry take it very seriously. Safety affects the bottom line. It’s not just about complying. It’s keeping people safe on the job.”

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