How Essential Union Carpenters are Ensuring Safety on the Job Site

April 6, 2020

Across the country there has been public debate about how to properly balance social distancing to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also completing essential work and projects in our communities. The Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters (EASRCC) understands this issue better than most, as their membership across seven states has in many cases been deemed essential to the economy and the emergency response to the virus. Leadership prioritized creating an online training course that will provide them with the necessary knowledge to remain safe and secure on the job site as quickly as possible from home.

“We already have the best trained and safest workforce in the country,” EASRCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer William Sproule said, “But, these are unprecedented times and we wanted to make sure we were proactive in getting our hard working members the training they need to get the job done and protect themselves and the community.”

To support the health & safety education of our members and the protection of the essential workforce needs, EST Sproule directed the Northeast Carpenters Training Fund to create a COVID-19 training component, with the support of the Carpenters International Training Fund (CITF) and the UBC Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) team this group developed an online COVID-19 Member Preparedness Qualification for UBC members and industry partners through the United States and Canada.

“As a training leader, we are required to train and protect our members so they can return to their families unharmed and safe at the end of the workday, the need to protect worker’s safety exists daily on every construction site,” stated Robert Smith, Supervisor of Instruction for the Northeast Carpenters Apprentice Training Fund, “This pandemic has raised the stakes even higher and at a faster pace.”

Message from EST Sproule to members about online training

Construction workers work in all types of environments, some require respirator fit testing due to oxygen enriched or deprived atmosphere’s. This pandemic requires construction projects to consult and review OSHA guidelines, WHO, CDC, & NIOSH recommendations that will guide how to create an effective safety protocol to support worker safety.

“ICRA Training has created added value to the Carpenters Tool Box,” said ICRA Director, Rick Okraszewski, “Through ICRA training the carpenter understands the dynamics involved during sensitive construction projects and completes those projects while maintaining very stringent standards.”

The training provides the carpenter with the necessary information and knowledge to complete projects while protecting patients receiving care or anyone working in or near the construction environment.

Tommy Grossi, of Local 253 in New Jersey, who has been a Shop Steward for the past 3 years completed the training. He even shared his experience on Instagram.

“Overseeing the safety for hundreds of Union carpenters and having to look after the well being of my fellow carpenters, we have to have the appropriate training. I feel confident that we can safely promote the 6 foot social distancing procedure.” – Tommy Grossi

As our workers continue to put their health and safety at risk on the job site, our Council is devoted to providing resources that allow them to feel comfortable and secure. With the Online Training, our workers are gaining new skills and knowledge that will benefit themselves and their families.

“Our leadership has handled (the COVID-19 crisis) in a fast and timely manner,” stated Grossi, “I would strongly recommend my fellow carpenters and trades to take this course, in order to remain prepared for all situations on the job site.”