SFCC Instructor Develops COVID-19 Workplace Safety Training
When the covid-19 pandemic hit, employers around the country were uncertain how to keep their workers safe. As businesses have begun to slowly re-open, it’s become essential for owners to protect their employees and customers. Santa Fe Community College’s covid-19 workplace safety class has offered a solution to thousands of workers around the nation.
SFCC’s Amanda Hatherly, Director of the Center of Excellence, EnergySmart Academy, immediately thought about how she could create a covid-19 workplace safety training course to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.
With a master’s degree in Educational Technology specializing in adult online education from Boise State University, Hatherly had the expertise to produce the training and course materials. She developed the covid-19 Workplace Safety course modules in consultation with subject matter experts and instructors, including Rebecca Y. Eckman, M.Ed., Energy Auditor and Quality Control Inspector in the DOE Weatherization Assistance Program; Janet M. Kerley, CHMM, SFCC’s program director for environmental safety and health training and the EPA Brownfields Job Training Program; Jeffrey Granger, an EnergySmart Academy instructor in Crew Leader, Energy Auditor, and Installer training; and Continuing Education instructor Andres Sabogal, who helped translate the class into Spanish.
“The covid-19 Workplace Safety training provided by the EnergySmart Academy has been beneficial to our weatherization network. This training has enabled office staff, HVAC technicians, finish carpenters, weatherization field crews, insulators, and contractors to have the confidence and knowledge needed to safely return to work. For anyone that is involved in the home retrofit industry, I would highly recommend this training so that the safety protocol outlined can be immediately put into place resulting in lives saved and continued work,” said Troy Cucchiara, New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.
More than 1,000 students enrolled in the first month the EnergySmart Academy offered the covid-19 Workplace Safety class. Because of the success of the course, and the quality and timeliness of the content, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory licensed the course for training in the Weatherization Assistance Program and an additional 1,000 students enrolled. Along with the training, more than 1,200 students have earned a digital badge in covid Workplace Safety. Professionals from state and federal departments of Health, Environment and other agencies also enrolled in the course. Workers in weatherization programs in eight states, including New Mexico, are required to take it. The course is free for those in the network (otherwise $75) and is available in English and Spanish. Through a contract with the Building Performance Association, comprehensive checklists in English and Spanish are available for free as an aid to help America return to work.
Hatherly emphasizes that the training is open to anyone. “I would love to see employers offer this to their employees. Safety and communication are so important,” she said. A local organization that saw the Santa Fe New Mexican story, “COVID-19 course at SFCC gets national audience,” is now working with SFCC to customize the course for their industry, potentially training an additional 500 people.
“Minnesota weatherization program staff statewide was required to take the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Training produced by Santa Fe Community College’s EnergySmart Academy before returning to work in client homes,” said Benjamin Tucker, Minnesota Department of Commerce. “We appreciated that the training was tailored to the work we do in client homes and was developed with the help of a workplace safety expert.”