Perhaps no single aspect of a thriving utility contracting business is more critical than effective worker safety protocols, because a vigorous safety program protects that company’s most valuable asset: its employees. For more than 24 years, NUCA’s safety department, led by Vice President of Safety George Kennedy, has directed the safety education and training of thousands of utility contractors and their employees, providing them with the information, training programs and technical assistance they have relied upon to keep their workers safe and injury-free. Particularly noteworthy are NUCA’s Competent Person Training and Confined Space Entry programs
Competent Person Program
1n 1990, Kennedy developed the NUCA Competent Person Training (CPT) program in an effort to simplify and demystify the task of competent person designation under OSHA’s revised excavation standards. He believed that the additional requirements of the rule would require considerable training efforts by contractors to comply. The revised standard requires that a “competent person” be present to oversee all excavation and trenching jobsites and have specific training in, and be knowledgeable about, soil analysis, the use of protective systems and the requirements of OSHA Subpart P.
For nearly 25 years, NUCA’s Competent Person Training program has thrived, educating utility and excavating contractors — keeping them in compliance with the revised excavation standards. NUCA’s nationally recognized program has two components: training instructors and competent person training programs. Instructor Training, also known as the Train-the-Trainer Program, offers instructor training for qualified individuals who have a strong knowledge of OSHA, have experience in the construction industry and make a commitment to teach the program regularly. These participants come from all parts of the country and the contracting industry, including consultants, safety directors, shoring manufacturers, rental companies, insurance loss-control representatives and even firefighters/rescuers. The CPT program also offers programs by these NUCA-certified instructors for utility contractors and excavators and their employees who need to be trained as competent persons. The program has instructors who can train in English, Spanish or both.
Over the years Kennedy observed that many NUCA members were not only registering their foremen and crew leaders for the CPT program, but they were also sending their crews to learn about excavation safety and OSHA regulations. This was a tribute to the quality of NUCA’s Excavation Safety and Competent Person Training Program.
Confined Space Entry Training
Recognizing that millions of construction workers who enter confined spaces face a significant risk of injury or death, Kennedy created NUCA’s Confined Space Entry Training Program in 1993, basing it on OSHA’s General Industry Standard. Although that Standard exempted the construction industry, Kennedy felt that the easiest way to ensure that NUCA members knew how to prevent serious injuries, fatalities and unwanted OSHA citations was to use that industry standard, which encompassed all the most important requirements for safe entry into confined spaces. Using this industry standard proved valuable, because NUCA members learned how to implement a confined space entry program that would serve them well when installing new pipes, performing maintenance on existing pipelines and working inside the realm of general industry facilities, where they are often called upon to follow general industry permit requirements.
NUCA’s Confined Space Entry course provides construction managers, competent persons and workers with basic information regarding entry into confined spaces. The class creates an awareness of the hazards associated with confined spaces and provides all the information necessary for a manager to establish a confined space entry program.
NUCA’s Competent Person Program also offers Instructor Training for qualified individuals who hold training programs for utility contractors and excavators and their employees who want training in Confined Space Entry. This program also has instructors who can train in English, Spanish or both.
Over the years, NUCA’s Train-the-Trainer programs have trained nearly 500 instructors who have, in turn, educated well over 350,000 construction workers.
While it is impossible to know how many lives have been saved and how many injuries prevented by NUCA’s Safety Programs, there is no question that construction workers all over the country have returned home safely from a day excavating in a trench or confined space because their foreman, crew leader, operator or they themselves attended a NUCA Safety Program taught by one of NUCA’s outstanding instructors.