At the directive of LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and New England Regional Manager Armand E. Sabitoni, a new program has been established to enhance the education and training of apprentices and Laborers at the New England Laborers’ Training Academy (NELTA) in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

The program allows the New England Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund (NELHSF) and the New England Laborers’ Training Trust Fund (NELTTF) to work closely and utilize each other’s resources for the betterment of all New England Laborers.

“A closer collaboration between our training and health and safety funds will pay added dividends for the signatory contractors in New England,” said Sabitoni. “Traditionally, one of the greatest strengths that Laborers bring to our craft is appreciation for a safe and effective worksite. We’re asking our funds to build on that tradition, and we’re confident that our contractors will appreciate the result.”

Under the program, the Health and Safety Fund’s Administrator, Robert P. Moretti, coordinates staff to cooperatively assist the NELTA by acting as guest speakers in the varied programs run at the state-of-the-art training facility. The guest speaker program is administered by the Tri-Fund Field Coordinator who works hand-in-hand with the training academy’s Director of Training to schedule and oversee speaking presentations. According to Sabitoni, “This program is a perfect example of utilizing the resources of both funds to provide our members with the most comprehensive training available.”

Health information is provided by the Fund’s Medical Program Director and includes information on bloodborne pathogens and the dangers and consequences of silica exposure. The program gives strong emphasis to the hazards associated with drug and alcohol use in the construction industry. In fact, the primary aim of this program is to educate LIUNA members and those enlisted in the apprenticeship program about the importance of a drug-free workplace and the policies and procedures regarding worksite drug and alcohol testing. It also explains the services of the Member Assistance Program (MAP). The Fund’s goal is to eliminate the use of illegal drugs and to discourage workers from using adulterants in an effort to mask recent drug use.

Safety presentations make up the nucleus of the guest speaker program. The NELHSF’s three Field Health and Safety Specialists inform the members in training classes about the many safety issues that arise on construction sites. Other staff discuss topics ranging from mold remediation and demolition worker safety to ergonomics for construction and the issues behind the OSHA 10-hour laws passed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

NELHSF’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Specialist compliments the program with her vast experience in the PPE industry. Comprehensive presentations cover all aspects of protection including noise and hearing loss, eye safety and respiratory protection.

In addition to overseeing the program for the NELHSF, the Tri-Fund Field Coordinator also presents safety demonstrations on pertinent safety topics to Laborers in the NELTA’s OSHA 10- and OSHA 30-hour programs. Other topics include heat stress, cold stress, job safety analysis and the big four hazards in construction. “The crossover of personnel has worked out to everyone’s best benefit,” noted James V. Merloni, Jr., Administrator of the NELTTF.

The NELHSF is continuing to develop additional programs for presentation at the NELTA. Future presentations will include accident prevention, tunnel worker safety, auditing your jobsite, trauma stress, stress management, nutrition, physical fitness and any topic that NELTTF requests.