Kent State Geauga Providing OSHA Safety Training to Small Businesses in and Around Geauga County
Thanks to a $75,000 grant from OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grants Program, Kent State University at Geauga is designing a pilot training program for workers from small businesses in underserved rural communities to help ensure safe and healthy workplaces. As part of the campus’ ongoing commitment to leadership in regional workforce development, the program will be implemented in Geauga County starting in the second quarter of 2023.
Lance Williams, Director of Operations and Special Projects at Kent State Geauga, co-wrote the successful grant application with Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Sanhita Gupta and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Erin Bailey.
“Our campus's mission is to serve the educational needs of our communities,” Williams says. "This grant will allow us to implement in-person training and serve businesses with rural workers within our geographical sphere. For more hard-to-reach workers, we will leverage distance learning training opportunities to serve this need. This training program will pilot future training endeavors that meet unfulfilled workforce needs in our surrounding communities.”
Topics for this program will include chemical/health hazards safety and workplace violence prevention.
Dr. Gupta adds, “We plan to extend our campus’s role in educating the community about specialty topics in health and safety in the workplace. We believe this program will better protect workers from illness and injury and help foster a sense of safety and well-being, ultimately leading to improved worker engagement and productivity.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is part of the United States Department of Labor. This grant program honors the late Susan Harwood, former director of OSHA's Office of Risk Assessment, who helped develop federal standards to protect workers exposed to blood-borne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead in construction.
While many Geauga County workplaces are small businesses, they still are required to meet OSHA regulations to keep their employees safe from workplace hazards. This training would be ideal for small-business employers and underserved, hard-to-reach workers in high-hazard industries to ensure compliance with updated OSHA standards.
Utilizing their knowledge and expertise in laboratory training and development, Kent State Geauga faculty from the biological sciences will design the OSHA training program to be engaging, effective, and learner-centered. The high-quality training opportunities will help ensure workplace safety among small businesses representing construction, agriculture, and service sectors in rural communities and beyond.
“This grant will tap into our campus’ rich faculty expertise and thereby allow us to create new opportunities that target hard-to-reach workers,” Williams stresses.
Dr. Bailey explains, “This grant will help us disseminate critical information about updated chemical safety standards and strategies for workplace violence prevention. After successfully completing our training, we believe businesses will improve their overall worker safety.” In addition to improved worker safety, this training can bolster worker morale, enhance worker productivity, and increase the ability of workers to take ownership of their collective safety.
Dean Angela Spalsbury says, “Our campus is excited to be a part of the prestigious Susan Harwood OSHA program, and we look forward to engaging with businesses and organizations to identify and address the community’s needs.”
Kent State Geauga is currently recruiting underserved and hard-to-reach workers in Geauga and neighboring counties to participate in this pilot training program. Selection criteria will be based on need and impact. Potential businesses seeking training to help promote worker safety and workplace violence prevention should contact Dr. Gupta at firstname.lastname@example.org.