By David Beard
Nobody questions the statement “your employees are your most valuable asset,” but the art of recruiting and retaining them has taken on a life of its own. You don’t have to look very far to find a help wanted sign or an article describing the shortages in the labor market. The same can be said for articles that give companies advice on how to recruit and retain employees.
One recurring theme I have found is that employees feel more loyalty to an employer and greater job satisfaction when they are offered training. A recent study in The St. Louis Business Journal reported 76% of employees agree that they are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training. The vast availability of training—and the fact that training makes workers safer and more efficient—makes providing training for your workers a win-win situation. Even better, much of the training is free or at a very low cost; all it takes is a little time.
The Ironworkers’ Union and its labor management affiliate, IMPACT, continually develops and updates training to meet industry demands. Its courses are designed for office staff as well as field personnel. It has some excellent free courses including “Getting Things Done,” “Negotiation Skills,” “Superintendent Training,” “Crucial Conversations,” “Bluebeam Revu,” “Cost Estimating,” “Improving Construction Productivity,” “Structured Problem Solving,” “Effective Project Management,” “Decking Zones,” “Subpart R” and “Lead with Respect,” to name a few. In addition, two safety courses were recently created.
Ironworkers Metal Building Training
The first course, “Ironworker Safety Director Training Course (IWSDTC),” is designed to raise the standard of safety performance in the metal building industry. It also provides employment opportunities for ironworkers to become fulltime safety directors for our metal building contractors. Since its inception, 513 ironworkers and contractor safety representatives from across the nation have completed the course. Based on course evaluations and valuable feedback from participants, the course has been expanded to five days (40 hours) of classroom instruction. The expanded course includes a written examination of approximately 300 questions to document proficiency and knowledge of the participant. To further enhance the credibility of the course, it is in the final stages of obtaining accreditation through the International Accreditation Service (IAS).
Another course, “Foremen Fall Protection Training on Metal Building Erection,” is a good alternative if time does not allow one to take the previously mentioned course. Fall protection in the metal building market remains one of the Ironworkers’ “Deadly Dozen Hazards” and part of the Ironworkers “ZERO Incident Campaign.” Incident trends and reports related to falls during the erection of metal buildings reflect the incorrect use and installation of personal fall arrest equipment.
Foremen play an important role in recognizing, planning and implementing fall hazard controls in the workplace. The course is designed to help foremen/supervisors managing the erection process to recognize common fall hazard conditions and methods of control. Following are specific topics provided during these sessions:
- Regulatory review
- Calculating system limits
- Anchor types and connectors
- Body harness support
- Roles of foremen/supervisors
- Climbing and transitioning
- Use of fall rescue plans
- Horizontal lifeline systems
- Calculating free-fall distance
- Avoiding impalement hazards
- Avoiding swing-fall hazards
- Leading/sharp edge situations
The use of a fall protection training structure for the hands-on portion of the training is designed to demonstrate common situations requiring the proper selection, installation and use of fall arrest systems. It is important for foremen to recognize and avoid situations that could provide a false sense of security if the equipment is used improperly.
All of this is on top of our four-year U.S. Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship, which is taught at 154 training centers across the U.S. and Canada. The Ironworkers Union and IMPACT will spend more than $90 million this year training its 13,690 apprentices and upgrading the journeymen’s skills.
The Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association (MBCEA) has its own online, self-paced training program titled “Quality and Craftsmanship Training Series.” The 12 modules, with an optional insulated metal panel module, guide you through the entire process of erecting metal buildings. They have recently added a temporary bracing manual that should be required reading for anyone erecting metal buildings.
Lastly, we must not overlook the mental health of our employees. Mental health issues have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. The American Addiction Centers reports 15% of construction workers have a substance abuse issue compared to 8.6% of the general population. The rate of suicide is more alarming than that; the CDC reports construction workers are four times more likely to commit suicide than the general population with those in steel erection leading the pack. Please research and watch for the warning signs of addiction and suicide, then aid those in need.
See the article on metalconstructionnews.com.