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OSHA Region VIII Reaches Out to High School Students at Colorado Construction Career Days

OSHA's Region VIII Regional Office and its Area Offices in Englewood and Denver, Colorado helped educate high school students about construction safety and health at the 4th Annual Colorado Construction Career Days on October 3-4, 2006 in Castle Rock, Colorado.

The Colorado Construction Career Days began in 2003 as a job fair during which high school students could learn about the construction industry and consider construction as a career. Representatives from OSHA's Region VIII exhibited at the event in the 2005 event and recognized that it provided an excellent opportunity to conduct safety and health outreach to young employees entering a high hazard industry. As a result, OSHA Region VIII and the Area Offices decided to play a bigger role in the 2006 event.

The 2006 Colorado Career Days introduced approximately 1,200 students to multiple construction crafts through hands-on activities and demonstrations. Upon arrival at the site, each student received a hard hat, safety glasses, and high visibility vests. Groups of 10-15 students accompanied their school chaperone and a group leader to various activity stations. Students built walls out of brick and block, assembled concrete form work, set up scaffolds, used surveying tools, built their own CD case from wood, assembled their own tool box from sheet metal, operated excavators and other construction equipment, used aerial lifts, observed fall protection demonstrations, and took part in many other activities.

Megan Meagher, Compliance Assistance Specialist with OSHA's Denver, Colorado Area Office and George Flynn, Compliance Assistance Specialist with OSHA's Englewood, Colorado Area Office, led the students in an activity called hazard/risk mapping, which is a teaching method used to educate employees about workplace hazards and ways to reduce the risk from those hazards. Approximately 60 groups of students generated risk maps based on one of the group member's real life work experience. Each group picked a workplace where one of the students had actually worked and charted the locations of the major workplace hazards. OSHA staff judged the maps and the winning groups were recognized at the afternoon assembly.

Other OSHA staff participated as group leaders to help guide groups of students through the program activities. Group leaders answered questions about construction processes, discussed safety and health, and offered insights about OSHA. Group leaders encouraged the students to consider a career in construction or even in OSHA, and also helped the students understand their right to a safe workplace.

"We were pleased that we could provide safety and health information to so many students who are considering careers in construction," said Greg Baxter, Regional Administrator for OSHA Region VIII. "We hope that OSHA's involvement in this event will help these students get off to a safe start in whatever careers they choose."

Students from a number of school districts attended the 2006 Colorado Construction Career Days, including Denver, Douglas County, Adams, and Arapahoe. Many other organizations participated in the event, including Red Rocks Community College, Associated General Contractors of Colorado, the Colorado Contractors Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Colorado Home Builders Association, building trades (union carpenters, plumbers, laborers, electricians, millwrights), Colorado Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and several construction companies.

For more information, contact Megan Meagher or George Flynn.

As of November 2006.

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