Student safety program prepares future trades workers - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Student safety program prepares future trades workers

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Montana has one of the highest rates of workplace injuries in the nation, according to the Montana State Fund. Our Bliss Zechman spoke to that group as they try to do their part to stop unnecessary injuries and deaths. 

Shop class seems safe enough, but all too often accidents happen.

The Montana State Fund handed out hundreds of dollars worth of free safety gear to students across the state this morning. They're hoping new equipment and corresponding advice will give these future tradesmen the tools to stay safe.

"We’re looking big picture and teaching students how they can actually champion safety when they enter a workforce," said Dan Johnson, Safety Management Coordinator for the Montana State Fund.  

Losses in Montana are significant. Johnson says worker’s comp injuries are on the rise and those injuries are becoming more severe. Folks in the field know firsthand what happens when safety measures aren't followed. 

“This is a step in the right direction. Some of them have already seen businesses get fined by not wearing safety equipment," said Bob Pearce, who has been teaching carpentry at Capital High School for 24 years.

Pearce is talking about students like Luis Eblen, who grew up in the construction business.

"We were on the roof and I was not tied off, and OSHA caught up and gave us a violation for that," Eblen said.

He’s putting it lightly. OSHA, a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor that regulates construction, slapped a $4,500 fine on Eblen's family business for not following protocol.

The teenager has also been hurt on the job. Eblen accidentally shot through his foot with a staple gun not too long ago.

"It didn't feel good," Eblen said.

This equipment could save students from trips to the hospital. It may sound dramatic, but Johnson says it could even save lives.

"To potentially prevent fatalities and very serious injuries is really one of our very main components of this program," Johnson said.

The Montana State Fund says they hope to expand the program next year, so that more students can be prepared.

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