Training News

IMI Advanced Training Sharpens BAC Competitive Edge
Increases Work for Members and Contractors

Journal: May - June 2004

Training has always been one of BAC’s greatest strengths, but the current training portfolio available to members through IMI is stronger than ever. While IMI continues to offer a curriculum rich in “classics” such as apprentice classes, craft-specific training, and OSHA courses, training is also being used to capture new markets and increase job opportunities for members.

Safety & Health

BAC members know that Union safety and health training and education is the gold standard for the construction industry. What they may not realize is just how extensive it is.

IMI delivers safety and health training on all levels – from apprentices to journey-level members to instructors. At the National Training Center and regional centers, it is a staple of the apprentice courses. The OSHA 500 and 502 “train the trainer” courses are offered through the BAC/IMI training system regionally and at the annual IMI Instructor Certification Program. These trainer courses are an efficient way for BAC Locals to bring new instructors up to speed on OSHA, and in turn, to ensure that new BAC members get all the OSHA training they need.

BAC/IMI Safety & Health Programs
• OSHA 10-hour 1926 standards
• Confined Space
• Hazwoper
• Personal Protective Equipment
• Scaffolds
• Fall Protection
• Self Rescue
• Hazard Communication
• Silicosis
• OSHA 500 & 502 (Trainers)

IMI National Safety Coordinator Tony Kassman recommends that all BAC members update their OSHA training every couple of years. “Safety standards change,” he notes, and helping BAC Locals keep members safe has him crisscrossing the country. In March, he helped teach a suspended scaffolding course for apprentice and journey-level members of the Northern Ohio Administrative District Council. Kassman also introduced a second class “Self Rescue,” which trains members to help coworkers during the rescue process made even more problematic by today’s safety harnesses. “It’s a very serious situation,” says N.O.A.D.C. Director Bob Fozio. “Contractors are clamoring for it, and we’ve gotten resounding results.” The N.O.A.D.C. sent instructors to IMI’s National Training Center so they could come back and offer it locally. “Our philosophy is that we have to keep our members safe,” says Fozio, adding they’re now promoting the more intensive OSHA 30-hour course to members to satisfy demands from general contractors and owners.

Local 4 Indiana/Kentucky Apprentice Coordinator Jim Crum is seeing similar demands, particularly from factory owners. According to Crum, because their experience shows that OSHA training helps BAC members get work, Local 4 makes sure that its field representatives and instructors at all ten schools take advantage of IMI’s OSHA 502 “refresher” course for trainers so it can be delivered at all times.

BAC members around Indianapolis have another incentive: an extra 10 cents per hour for each OSHA or CPR course taken. Local 4 President Joe Bramlett bargained for it, and now hopes to do it elsewhere. He keeps his own OSHA training current and has even taught a few courses.

Specialized training is also available. When BAC members working near mines were told they were required to follow rules under MSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Kassman developed a course tailored to meet the requirements and now delivers it where needed. His first stop was Local 5 Pennsylvania, where he helped safety training coordinator Mario Savinelli create his own program for MSHA approval. “It’s going to be valuable to our members, particularly those who work in refractory or confined spaces,” says Savinelli. “Now we can do it in-house.”


The “train-the-trainer” approach so prevalent in health and safety training is central to keeping members up-to-date in this critical area, says IMI National Apprenticeship and Training Director Steve Martini. “It allows us to get the training out to BAC Locals quickly, to stay on top of industry trends, and to respond with training when and where it is needed most.” But its application doesn’t stop with health and safety.

The Illinois District Council Training Center (DCTC) is just one location where the “train-the-trainer” approach has been used successfully. An urgent demand for skilled EIFS mechanics in Chicago prompted IMI and the DCTC to join forces with the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries in 2003 to establish an EIFS certification program in English and Spanish. DCTC Coordinator Steve Nelms says the course is popular with BAC members at all levels and even other professionals like specifiers. And, because accreditation is likely to be adopted in the AIA MasterSpecs, IMI is working to prepare BAC mechanics elsewhere.

Similarly, when Chicago adopted a tough new scaffold ordinance in 2003, IMI and the DCTC were quick to ensure that instructors were accredited as trainers, giving BAC members and contractors the advantage. And when area restoration contractors requested Jahn training, IMI, Local 52 IL, and the DCTC promptly set up a class, saving time and $1,200 per member. “Contractors loved it and even sent their foremen,” says DCTC Director Bob Arnold.

Grouting and Reinforced Masonry

IMI’s training and marketing staff are helping members address another industry trend, certification in grouting and reinforced masonry. In Michigan, the power-combo of design advice and onsite grout training for a $40 million school expansion effort earned IMI a spot on the Detroit Public Schools’ building program team. As a result, numerous school projects have turned into loadbearing masonry. These and similar training initiatives “are paying off,” says Local 1 MI President Ray Chapman. “Contractors know they can come to us, and have their employees trained by the best.”

In Northern Ohio, another strong school construction market, “we send everybody” to grout training says Fozio. “Architects are specifying it, and it keeps a lot of non-union out. It all works out great.”

Grout competency is a particularly sensitive issue in Pennsylvania, where a new high school recently closed after large cracks appeared, attributed in part to improper grouting and reinforcing. “We saw an immediate shift by local architects away from loadbearing,” says Greg Hess, President of Caretti, Inc. In an effort to avert “imminent disaster” and restore confidence in an important structural system and market to BAC members and contractors, IMI responded by conducting mass training in grouting and reinforced masonry. Caretti, Inc. now includes grout certification in its bid documents, along with safety training.

OSHA “train-the-trainer” courses taught through the BAC/IMI training system bring instructors up to speed on safety.

IMI Instructor Tom McCord demonstrates bar placement procedure during a grouting and reinforcing class in Michigan.

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