Jenny Houlroyd Earns Doctor of Public Health Degree

 

Jenny Houlroyd, CIH, MSPH, DrPH

Jenny Houlroyd, an occupational health group manager for the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) Program, successfully defended her dissertation in March 2024 to complete a doctorate in public health (DrPH) from the University of Georgia. Her degree is from the College of Public Health in public health policy and management. Graduation is scheduled for May 10. The SHES program is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 2005, Houlroyd earned a dual master of science in public health (MSPH) from Emory University, focusing on epidemiology and environmental and occupational health. As a certified industrial hygienist with the OSHA 21(d) Consultation Program, she helps small Georgia businesses ensure that workplaces are hazard-free and workers are protected from potential health threats.

She also serves as faculty for the OSHA Training Institute Education Center (OTIEC) at Georgia Tech and for the professional master’s in Occupational Safety and Health program for the School of Building Construction within the College of Design.

“My dissertation was on respiratory protection,” said Houlroyd. “In health and safety, we follow a hierarchy of controls, and the last layer of defense is personal protective equipment (PPE).”

Respiratory safety ranks consistently among the top ten concerns of OSHA, and Houlroyd conducted a qualitative study focusing on the manufacturing sector. Through the process of exploring elements that might contribute to a worker’s reluctance to wear PPE, she developed what she calls the FACT model, which tracks fit, acceptance of risk, comfort, and type of respirator.

Houlroyd views her doctor of public health degree as an achievement that not only enhances her own skill set but also benefits colleagues and contributes to the greater good. “I’m really hoping that it helps my entire team open doors, to apply for more competitive grants and make connections with other research groups,” she said. “I really see it as essential for our team to have this kind of expertise in-house.”

Those doors are already opening. On May 16, Houlroyd is attending the conference Preventing Silicosis – An Ancient Disease in Modern Times: Silicosis Caused by Artificial Stone in the U.S., hosted by the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at University of California, Los Angeles, where she has been invited to speak on exposure and control technologies. “My doctoral program includes leadership training, and it gave me the confidence to speak up about issues that are important to me,” she said.

“At the Enterprise Innovation Institute, we are committed to making workplaces healthier and safer,” Houlroyd added. “We want people to go home from work to their families in the same or better shape than when they left. My dad got sick with brain cancer from exposure on the job; he died two years ago. I really do see it as a personal mission. We are saving lives.”

EI2 Programs Help Keep Georgia Businesses Lean and Healthy

by Jerry Grillo

Trey Sawyers, Katie Hines, and Sean Castillo are helping keep Georgia businesses lean and safe. (Photo: Jerry Grillo)

Sean Castillo is in the win-win business. As an industrial hygienist in the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), his job is to ensure that employees are safe in their workspaces, and when he does that, he simultaneously improves a company’s performance.

That’s been a theme for Castillo and his colleagues in the Safety, Health, Environmental Services (SHES) program and their partners in the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), part of EI2’s suite of programs aimed at helping Georgia businesses thrive.

“A healthier workforce is healthy for business,” said Castillo, part of the SHES team of consultants who often work closely with their GaMEP counterparts to improve safety while also maximizing productivity.

This team of experts from EI2 assist companies trying to reach that critical intersection of both, combining smart ergonomics and safety enhancements with lean manufacturing practices. This can solve human performance gaps due to fatigue, heat, or some other environmental stressor, while helping businesses continue to improve their production processes and, ultimately, their bottom line.

These stressors cost U.S. industry billions of dollars each year — fatigue, for example, is responsible for about $136 billion in lost productivity.

“Protecting your employee — investing in safety now — saves a lot of money later,” Castillo said. “It equates to less money spent on workers compensation and less employee turnover, which means less time training new employees, and that ideally leads to a more efficient process in the workplace.”

It takes careful and intentional collaboration to bring those moving pieces together, and inextricably linked programs like SHES and GaMEP can help orchestrate all of that.

Ensuring Safe Workspaces

SHES is staffed by safety consultants, like Castillo, who provide a free and essential service to Georgia businesses. They help companies ensure that they meet or exceed the standards set by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), mainly through SHES’ flagship OSHA 21(d) Consultation Program.

“Our job is to ensure that workspaces and processes are designed so that anybody can perform the work safely,” said Trey Sawyers, a safety, health, and ergonomics consultant on the SHES team, aiding small and mid-sized businesses in Georgia. When a company reaches out to SHES to apply for the free, confidential OSHA consultation program, a consultant like Sawyers gets assigned to the task, “based on our area of expertise,” said Sawyers, an expert in ergonomics, which is the science of designing and adapting a workspace to efficiently suit the physical and mental needs and limitations of workers.

“If a company is having ergonomic issues — maybe they’re experiencing a lot of strains and sprains — then I might get the call because of my knowledge and understanding of anthropometry, and then I’ll go take a close look at the facility,” Sawyers said. Anthropometry is the scientific study of a human’s size, form, and functional capacity.

SHES consultants can identify potential workplace hazards, provide guidance on how to comply with OSHA standards, and establish or improve safety and health programs in the company.

“The caveat is the company has to correct any serious hazards that we find,” said Castillo, who visits a wide range of workspaces in his role. For instance, his job will take him to construction and manufacturing sites, gun ranges, even office settings. “We do noise and air monitoring at all different types of workplaces. I was at a primary care clinic the other day. And over the past few years, we’ve had a significant emphasis on stone fabricators, looking for overexposures to respirable crystalline silica.”

Silica, which is dust residue from the process of creating marble and quartz slabs, can lead to a lung disease called silicosis. OSHA established new limits that cut the permissible exposure limits in half, and that has kept the SHES consultants busy as Georgia manufacturers try to achieve and maintain compliance.

Keeping Companies Cool

Another area of growing emphasis for Georgia Tech’s consultants is heat-related stress in the workplace.

“Currently, there are no standards to address this,” Castillo said. “For example, there are no rules that say a construction site worker should drink this much water. There are suggested guidelines and emphasis programs for inspections for targeted industries where heat stress may be prevalent — but no standards, though that is coming.”

The SHES team is trying to stay ahead of what will likely be new federal rules for heat mitigation. To help develop safe standards and better understand the effects of heat on workers, consultants like Castillo are going to construction sites, plant nurseries, and warehouses, and enlisting volunteers in field studies. Using heat stress monitor armbands, they’re monitoring data on workers’ core body temperatures and heart rates.

“These tools are great because we’re not only gathering some good data, but we can use them proactively to prevent heat events such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can be fatal if left untreated,” Castillo said.

To further help educate Georgia companies about the risks of heat-related problems, SHES applied for and recently won a Susan Harwood Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The $160,000 award will support SHES consultants’ efforts to further their work in heat stress education so that “companies and workers will understand the warning signs and the potential effects of heat stress, and how they can stay safe,” Castillo said. “We’re sure this will all become part of OSHA standards eventually, and we’d like to help our clients stay ahead of the curve to protect their employees.”

OSHA standards are the law, and while larger corporations routinely hire consulting firms to keep them on the straight and narrow, SHES is providing the same level of expertise for its smaller business clients for free. Most of those clients apply for help through SHES’ online request form. And others find the help they need through the guidance of process improvement specialist Katie Hines and her colleagues in GaMEP.

Lean and Safe

Hines came to her appreciation of ergonomics naturally. After graduating from Auburn University, she entered the workforce as a manufacturing engineer for a building materials company, where “it was just part of our day-to-day work life in that manufacturing environment, on the production floor,” she said.

It took grad school and a deeper focus on lean and continuous improvement processes to formalize that appreciation.

While working toward her master’s degree in chemical engineering at Auburn, Hines earned a certificate in occupational safety and ergonomics (like Sawyers, her SHES colleague). At the same time, Hines was helping to guide her company’s lean and continuous improvement program. And when she joined Proctor and Gamble after completing her degree, “The lean concept and safety best practices were fully ingrained, part of the daily discussion there,” she said.

All those hands-on manufacturing production floor experiences managing people and systems prepared Hines well for her current role as a project manager on GaMEP’s Operational Excellence team, where her focus is entirely on lean and continuous improvement work — that is, helping companies reduce waste and improve production while also enhancing safety and ergonomics.

Hines uses her expertise in knowing how manufacturing processes and people should look when everyone is safe and also productive. She can walk into a GaMEP client’s facility and drive the process improvements and solutions that will help them achieve a leaner, more efficient form of production. And then, when she sees the need, Hines will recommend the client contact SHES, “the people who have their fingers on the data and the expertise to improve safety.”

These were concepts that, for a long time, seemed to be working against each other — the very idea of maximizing production and improving profits while also emphasizing worker safety and comfort.

“But you can have both,” Castillo said. “You should have both.”

Grenzebach: Putting Safety First

Customer Profile

Grenzebach is a privately owned, family-run company based in Germany, with 1,600 employees worldwide and 100 employees at its Newnan, Georgia, facility. Primarily a material handling manufacturer, Grenzebach produces large conveying systems for the glass industry and for James Hardie, makers of exterior siding products. The company also produces solar glass and manufactures electric automated guided vehicles for use in moving materials from place to place inside distribution facilities.

Situation

Prior to 2012, Grenzebach’s Newnan plant was experiencing too many recordable injuries, said Ken Pinkerton, head of facilities, quality, safety, and environmental at the Newnan location. From 2009 through 2013, the company averaged five recordable injuries per year, and one year the company had 10. Despite a long-time commitment to creating a safe and healthy workplace, leaders realized they needed to do something to bring those numbers down.

The place to start was with Georgia Tech’s Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program, a part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and the state’s on-site consultant for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The on-site consultation program provides small business owners with no-cost advisory services to address hazards and improve workplace safety and health without fear of citations or penalties. Pinkerton has a long relationship with Georgia Tech, including receiving his Industrial, Health, and Safety Certification through Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE).

Solution

In 2012, Grenzebach began working with SHES to pursue OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) certification. SHARP recognizes small businesses that operate exemplary safety and health programs. To qualify for SHARP, Grenzebach — and all businesses — must:

  • Request comprehensive consultation visits in safety and health that include a hazard identification survey;
  • Involve employees in the consultation process;
  • Correct all hazards identified by the consultant;
  • Implement and maintain health and safety programs as specified by OSHA;
  • Maintain days away, restricted, or transferred (DART) rates and total recordable case (TRC) rates below the national industry average;
  • Agree to notify the state consultant prior to making changes to working conditions in a facility.

Achieving SHARP status confers a number of benefits on a business. SHARP certified companies provide protection to workers through the development and implementation of best safety and health practices; create a culture that values health and safety; build a reputation for safety within their industry; save money; and are granted an exemption from OSHA programmed inspections for up to two years and subsequent renewal for up to three years.

“The real benefits to SHARP,” said Paul Schlumper, director of the SHES program, “are the improvements that a company makes in its safety and health management system to help provide a better work environment for employees. Another really big benefit is the prestige. A company can advertise the fact that they’re serious about safety and health. I think that means something to their customers and their employees.”

Results

SHARP has been so successful for the company that Grenzebach has renewed its certification each year since 2012.

“What the SHARP certification allowed us to do is open our eyes to some of the different hazards that we took for granted every day,” Pinkerton said. And noticing those hazards has led to drastic decreases in recordable incidents for the facility.

“Since 2014, the number of recordable incidents has dropped 85%, and we are now significantly below the industry average,” Pinkerton said. “We’ve had a few milestones where we have gone a year without a recordable injury, 365 days. In fact, we recently met that goal again. But we had never gone a complete calendar year without one, until 2020.”

To achieve those stellar results, Grenzebach listened to the suggestions of the SHES team, including a safety committee that meets monthly, and implemented processes that include a focus on cleanliness. “If you don’t have a clean environment, you’re not going to have a safe environment,” Pinkerton said.

SHES helped Grenzebach empower workers to correct any hazards that they see. “If you see that broken pallet on the floor, instead of walking over it, our employees now pick it up and put it in the designated place. It removes that hazard from existence,” Pinkerton said.

Achieving SHARP certification does not mean that SHES is no longer involved. In fact, that is often just the beginning of a collaboration with a company.

“The relationship we’ve built with Georgia Tech and SHES over this process has been very beneficial,” Pinkerton said. “If I have any type of question that has to do with OSHA, or has to do with safety in general, they are able to help me. They will go above and beyond. If I have an employee concerned about the air quality or noise level in the plant, they’ll do an air quality check or a noise level check anytime I call and ask them to do it. And they provide those free of charge.”

That relationship delivers a level of security that dealing with OSHA may not bring.

“If I see changes coming in OSHA, I can contact the SHES group to get information,” Pinkerton said. “They’re my liaison to OSHA. I don’t have to contact OSHA to get an answer to a question. I can contact Georgia Tech and get that same answer, and not feel the anxiety that a person may feel contacting OSHA.”

The commitment to safety has worked its way through the entire organization, Pinkerton said.

“The people on the floor see that we legitimately care about their safety,” he said. “It’s not how fast can you make a product and get it out the door. The main thing is safety. How safely can you make that product? The atmosphere has completely changed when it comes to safety. That’s what you want. You’re trying to build a safety culture in your facility, and not have employees do something because I tell them to do it. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Testimonial

“The SHES group is as loyal to me as I am to them. When it comes to the safety of people in the workforce, they take their jobs very seriously. I tell people all the time about SHARP and that they should become SHARP certified. The main thing that I would say about Georgia Tech and their consultation program is that they care. They don’t come in just trying to find something wrong. They come in and try to find ways for us to improve.” – Ken Pinkerton, head of facilities, quality, safety, and environmental at Grenzebach in Newnan, Georgia

Emerald Transportation: Refrigerated vehicle specialists deliver safety and efficiency

GRIFFIN, Ga. — When the world shut down in March 2020, due to COVID-19, the owners of Emerald Transportation Solutions, a privately held, end-to-end manufacturer of refrigerated vans and trucks, thought their work would slow also.

How wrong they were.

Instead, as people all over the world stayed home and ordered groceries and other necessities to be delivered, the need for refrigerated last-mile delivery vehicles skyrocketed. Emerald’s vans and trucks became essential to getting groceries to people who didn’t want to leave their homes.

The company, founded in 2013, swelled to four facilities and two surface lots in Fayetteville, Georgia, but that created challenges and inefficiencies Emerald executives knew they would need to address to keep the momentum and growing market share. They contacted Georgia Oak Partners, an investment firm, about investing in the growing company.

Wes Funch, Emerald COO

When Georgia Oak realized Emerald didn’t have the expertise needed for the redesign, the firm connected Emerald with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) group was tapped to work on plant efficiency and optimization, and the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) team developed improved employee safeguards.

Unique Model

“We’re unique in a couple of ways,” said Wes Funsch, Emerald’s chief operating officer. “First, our trucks are lighter, so we allow more product in the truck. We run about 65% of the weight of most domestically built insulated products. Two, you call up and order a 17-foot truck that can hold zero degrees, and that’s what we deliver — custom built to your needs and specifications.”

The alternative model to Emerald’s process is more cumbersome. For that same 17-foot truck that holds zero degrees, a buyer must go to an automaker to find a chassis that can handle a 17-foot body. The buyer purchases it and sends it to a body manufacturer to build and install the 17-foot body. After that the buyer must contract with a refrigeration specialist to install a refrigeration system. And if there are any additional or special features required, those have to be project managed as well.

“With Emerald, you make one phone call, we do all of that for you, and we deliver the final truck,” Funsch said.

Trucks lined up for assembly in Emerald’s safer, more efficient plant

The company started almost literally in the founder’s basement, then expanded to four buildings in Fayetteville, where assembly took place. It was an inefficient way of operating — moving vehicles to and from different buildings as they were put together. Output stalled at fewer than two trucks — and often only one truck — completed each day. As business took off in 2020, leaders knew something had to change.

The search began for a single facility that would be large enough for a streamlined assembly process under one roof. An old, unused building in Griffin, Georgia, about 20 miles to the southeast, fit the bill.

Enter GaMEP

To ensure production could keep pace with rising demand, Emerald contacted the GaMEP for help in designing the workflow for the new facility. The company’s immediate goal: Complete three trucks per day. The longer-term goal was to build four to five trucks per day.

Sam Darwin, GaMEP operational excellence project manager

Sam Darwin, operational excellence project manager for GaMEP, came in to examine the layout and workflow in the four buildings, business operations, and sales growth projections. His job was to design a system in the new facility for optimum efficiency.

He spoke to employees, watched the way they moved back and forth in the old buildings, checked out the new larger building, and got to work. His layout eventually involved not just the facility and equipment; it also came to encompass the whole production system.

“We designed an assembly line, which is not what they were doing before,” Darwin said. “It was all single bay, bring this truck chassis in and start adding stuff to it. Then it would go to another building, and somebody did something else. It was extremely inefficient. The new assembly line — actually, a couple of different assembly lines — is a continuous flow.”

That means trucks are moved from station to station — not building to building — every four hours or so. “And, every day, you have a couple or three trucks coming out,” Darwin said. “It made them much more efficient and faster at building trucks.”

The design was nearly perfect right off the drawing board.

“Sam worked with the Emerald team and was able to develop a layout that we 90% follow today,” Funsch said.

Following the move, David Apple, GaMEP operational excellence project manager, visited Emerald to teach employees a problem-solving course – A3, a method for solving any challenges that might come up in the business. Using problems that Emerald had, he taught employees the step-by-step method for tackling and solving them.

Streamlining Information

Emerald leaders also realized that a streamlined system to track information that goes along with building vehicles – VIN numbers, orders, payments, and more – was essential as well. A series of spreadsheets had been used for tracking, which meant that in many cases, the same information had to be updated on multiple sheets by multiple people for every vehicle.

Kelley Hundt, GaMEP East Metro Atlanta region manager, worked with Emerald to resolve these data issues by helping to implement an enterprise resource planning system (ERP).

Kelley Hundt, GaMEP East Metro Atlanta region manager

“Going with an ERP system allowed them to have one data repository, with all of the data relating appropriately,” she said. “That reduced efforts to keep track of the information that they need, while at the same time improving the reliability and timeliness of that data.”

Health and Safety

Efficiency wasn’t the only goal of the move. The health and safety of employees in the new facility was paramount. Emerald brought in the SHES team to survey the facility and the company’s health and safety practices and make recommendations.

The SHES team looked at elements of Emerald’s overall safety and health management system, and started off with two essential questions:

    • How does the company anticipate and detect hazards?
    • How does the company prevent hazards and plan for and control hazards?

Challenges the SHES team identified during the inspections included electrical safety, fall protection, compressed gas cylinder safety, and clearing exit routes — issues that are common in manufacturing facilities.

The health team performed contaminant and noise-level monitoring. These were found to be within guidelines. They also examined Emerald’s hazard communication program, and other health and safety documentation.

Paul Schlumper, director of the SHES group

“There is an obligation on the part of the company to correct any serious hazards that we find,” said Paul Schlumper, director of the SHES group. “When we go in and work with a company, we’re going to write a report and have a list of things. If anything is classified as serious, they’re required to correct those items. We make sure they know that up front.”

The people at Emerald were prepared to do anything SHES recommended, Funsch said. “There are a lot of things that the SHES group pointed out as deficiencies that we’ve turned around and put into place to make the plant safer for our employees.”

The results of Emerald and SHES working together have been to create a safer workplace for all by:

    • Correcting electrical hazards, including open junction boxes
    • Adding restraints to keep employees from falling off ladders, trucks, and more
    • Adding an emergency action plan
    • Making Safety Data Sheets accessible
    • Holding monthly safety meetings
    • Tracking and documenting training
    • Adding an environmental health and safety manager

Thanks to its work with Georgia Tech, Emerald is an efficient, growing, and safe company. Emerald’s 65 employees now build three trucks or vans per day, up from one to one and a half. In 2023, the company projects throughput will average 75% more over 2022. And that’s just the beginning. The work Emerald has completed lays a foundation for greater expansion and a growing future.

“Hands down I would recommend the GaMEP and SHES groups,” Funsch said. “They were more forthright and helpful than anyone else we worked with. They got back with me in a timely fashion. They got back to me with a detailed response. They followed up. They gave the impression that they cared.”

Note: Emerald Transportation Solutions signed a waiver of the confidentiality clause (1908.6(h)(2)) for the OSHA 21(d) Consultation program, allowing this story about the company’s work with the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute to be published.

Georgia Tech to Create Pilot Crystalline Silica Training Program

The Safety, Health, and Environmental Services program at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is using a $75,000 federal grant to create a pilot crystalline silica exposure training and materials program for the cut stone and stone fabrication industries.

 

The grant is one of 93 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Administration Occupational Safety and Health Administration awarded totaling more $11.6 million.

 

Derived from the Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training program, the grants awarded by OSHA in fiscal year 2021 are in the Targeted Topic Training, Training and Educational Materials Development, and Capacity Building categories. The grants are a critical part of OSHA’s effort to educate workers and assist employers.

 

The funding will support the one-year effort that targets small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries. The specific focus is low/non-literate, limited-English speaking, and other at-risk workers. The training materials will be evaluated during the pilot period which includes 50 workers and employers. Training will be offered in English and Spanish.

 

Crystalline silica — or quartz — is a common mineral found in natural materials such as stone. Cutting, drilling, or grinding of stone creates a lot of dust, which includes particles of crystalline silica.

 

Inhaling crystalline silica can lead to serious and sometimes fatal illnesses, including tuberculosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Exposure to these particles has also been linked to kidney disease and cancers, including lung cancer.

 

Crystalline silica inhalation can also lead to silicosis, an irreversible and potentially fatal disease marked by the development of growths and scarring of the lungs. If the growths or nodules become too large, breathing can become labored and eventually lead to death.

 

“The risk of silicosis is high for workers in several industries, including the construction, cut stone, and stone fabrication industries,” said Jenny Houlroyd, the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services program’s occupational health services manager. “This effort is designed to give workers the essential tools and training to protect themselves and keep them as safe as possible.”

U.S. Department of Labor Awards Worker Safety Health Training Grant to Georgia Tech

Institute is one of 37 recipients of newly available grants focused
on stopping spread of infectious disease, including Covid-19.

 

Sean Castillo is an industrial hygienist with the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. He is the project lead on an OSHA grant awarded to Georgia Tech to provide Covid-19 training sessions to employers and workers in the long-term healthcare and mortuary industries.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is awarding more than $6.7 million in grants to 37 nonprofit organizations and universities nationwide, including the Georgia Institute of Technology.

 

The grants will be used to fund education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus health hazards, and identify preventive measures for a safe workplace. In addition to hazard control, the training will include understanding workers’ rights and employer responsibilities under the OSHA Act of 1970.

 

Georgia Tech’s award will provide 1-hour and 6.5-hour Covid-19 training sessions to 475 employers and workers in the long-term healthcare and mortuary industries, through its Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program. The SHES training will focus on infectious disease awareness and prevention. Existing materials will be used, and the training will be conducted in English and Spanish. Additionally, SHES will collaborate with University of Georgia professor Toni Miles to integrate stress management and bereavement skills and training materials to provide this work-group population the tools necessary to address the health implications of grief.

 

Toni Miles is an epidemiology and biostatistics and health policy and management professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. UGA is working with Geogia Tech to implement the OSHA-funded Covid-19 training program.

“We are thankful to be included in this OSHA funding to advance awareness and understanding of disease risk and measures to take to mitigate exposure,” said SHES Director, Paul Schlumper. “A healthy and safe Georgia workplace environment is essential for employers and employees alike. This funding will be a critical part of our efforts in our continuous fight against the pandemic.”

 

An offering of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, SHES provides a broad range of occupational safety and health training, consulting services, and academic education to organizations in Georgia and the Southeast. In 2020, the SHES group helped employers remove nearly 36,000 workers from workplace hazards. SHES staff also identified nearly 1,500 workplace hazards in 2020.

 

The OSHA award includes “Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including the novel coronavirus” grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The grants derive from the Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training program, named in honor of the late Susan Harwood, former director of OSHA’s Office of Risk Assessment. In her 17-year OSHA career, she helped develop federal standards to protect workers from bloodborne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead in construction.

 

The program funds grants made available to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor-management associations, colleges, and universities. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries. These grants are a critical element in supporting OSHA’s role in educating workers on their rights and assisting employers with providing safe workplaces.

 

Learn more about the 2021 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program recipients.

Safety, Health, and Environmental Services team discusses workplace safety at Georgia Capitol

From left: Bob Hendry, SHES research scientist and treasurer of the AIHA’s Georgia chapter; Jenny Houlroyd, SHES senior research scientist; Hilarie Warren, SHES senior research scientist and AIHA Georgia chapter president; Gov. Brian Kemp; and Georgia AIHA members John Moore, Stacey Brooks, and Kerry Ann Jaggassar.

The Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) group at Georgia Tech met with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and key Georgia legislators at the Capitol to highlight efforts in workplace safety and other issues related to health at places of employment.

 

The Feb. 18 breakfast “meet and greet” included state Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta), chairman of the public safety committee; Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Athens), chairman of its economic development committee, and state Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), chairman of the Georgia House Small Business Development Committee, among others.

 

A program of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, SHES provides broad range of occupational safety and health training, consulting services, and academic education to organizations in Georgia and across the Southeast.

 

“These meetings and talks with our state leaders was a great opportunity to speak with key legislators and committee chairs about the importance of promoting health and safety policies and programs that protect employees in their workplaces in our state,” said Hilarie S. Warren, SHES’ senior  research scientist and industrial hygienist.

Hilarie Warren (far right), SHES senior research scientist and AIHA Georgia chapter president, speaks with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (center) about health and safety issues and initiatives in Georgia.

 

Warren, is president of the Georgia Local Section of American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), which facilitated the meetings at the Gold Dome.

 

For example, Jenny Houlroyd, SHES’ occupational health group manager, updated legislators on her work with the Sustainable Workforce Alliance. That project is focused on giving the tools and training and access to training resources to help protect the health and safety of youth workers and educators in career/technical education programs throughout Georgia.

 

The Sustainable Workforce Alliance aims to highlight and address exposure risks of youth workers to prevalent hazards in the construction and general industries. The initiative also provides an understanding of worker’s rights and employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

 

Warren said they also highlighted Atlanta serving as host to the national organization’s three-day conference that starts June 1, 2020.

 

 

Georgia Tech helps Hogansville auto parts supplier obtain national safety recognition

Dongwon Autopart Technology celebrates its SHARP status. From left: Tony Yun, general manager; Charlie Kim, president, Dongwon Autopart Technology; Neely Bridges, SHES research engineer; Jim Howry, SHES principal research associate; Paul Schlumper, manager SHES’ Georgia Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program; Larry Rogers, Dongwon safety and general affairs manager, and Kevin McKinsey, head of procurement, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.

For the past three years, the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program, has been working with Dongwon Autopart Technology, a Korean maker of door frames, bumpers, and side impact beams and supplier to Kia Motors’ plant in West Point, Georgia.

 

Based in Hogansville, Georgia, Dongwon, which opened in 2009 and employs 200, sought to reinforce the plant’s health and safety practices.

 

“We reached out to Georgia Tech not only to be OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliant but to enhance our culture of safety,” said Larry Rogers, who is the plant’s safety and general affairs manager. “We wanted to work with Georgia Tech because of its reputation in health and safety consulting and cost. All this time and effort we were putting into our health and safety standards and practices is yielding success for our company.”

 

As a result of its work with SHES, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, Dongwon was granted Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) status October 18.

 

The designation is awarded to those companies with fewer than 250 employees with injury and illness rates below industry average and that have an effective safety and health management system in place, said Paul Schlumper, manager of SHES’ Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program.

 

SHES staff worked with Dongwon onsite to help the company’s management and staff  better manage safety and health conditions and help it reduce expenses by improving those standards, Schlumper said.

 

Because of the SHARP designation, Dongwon, now one of only 10 Georgia companies with that status, is exempt from certain federal OSHA inspections for up to two years, Schlumper said.

 

“It’s a recognition that Dongwon is a high performer in safety and health and a differentiator that the company can show to its customers and suppliers,” he said.

 

The SHARP status is already making an impact, Rogers said, explaining the company has been fielding calls from other Kia suppliers that want to learn more about the certification process and SHARP best practices.

 

“Our efforts show that we take occupational health and safety not only among auto parts suppliers, but the wider Hogansville community because there is this perception that plants in general are not safe” Rogers said. “We want to dispel those beliefs.”

Georgia Tech welcomes second cohort in Professional Master’s Occupational Safety and Health program

Class photo of PMOSH Class of 2020
Members of the Professional Master’s Occupational Safety and Health (PMOSH) Class of 2020.

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Safety, Health, and Environmental Services program (SHES), welcomed its second cohort to its Professional Master’s Occupational Safety and Health (PMOSH) program — the only offering of its kind in the state.

The 21 students who comprise the cohort will spend two years studying for the degree, which SHES is offering in partnership with Georgia Tech Professional Education.

The students represent a wide range of industries, including aerospace manufacturing, food production, retail, construction, and biotechnology.

Launched in 2017, the PMOSH degree is designed to give individuals ascending to leadership positions with the knowledge and skills needed to define and effectively manage safety and health programs in a wide range of organizations where they can have a positive impact in the well-being of the labor force.

Among the things they will learn to:

  • Define and describe the principles of managing safety and health.
  • Analyze the attributes of an organization with respect to safety and health and identify gaps that warrant improvement to attain better safety and health performance.
  • Design and implement an action plan to improve and sustain the highest level of safety and health performance.
  • Apply the analytical, technological and business concepts necessary to measure, improve and sustain safety and health performance.
  • Demonstrate the value proposition of effective safety and health management within an organization.

“Our research showed there is a strong need for this type of training,” said Myrtle Turner Harris, director of the SHES and OSHA Training Institute Education Center programs. “The education and training they will receive will allow them to have that professional education to advance in their fields. For companies, they’re putting people in these critical occupational safety positions who are trained to be there. They’re supporting safety in the workplace, which is an important factor in the companies’ bottom lines.”

U.S. Department of Labor, Georgia Tech, and Georgia Department Of Public Health form alliance to reduce lead exposure

Paul A. Schlumper is SHES’ manager for the Georgia On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Safety, Health, and Environment Services (SHES) group; and Georgia Department of Public Health’s Division of Health Protection have formed a two-year alliance to raise awareness about lead exposure.

 

OSHA and its partners will provide employers, industry leaders, and the public with information, guidance, and access to training resources on preventing worker exposure to lead hazards in general and construction industries. The alliance will also emphasize how best to communicate this information to hard-to-reach workers.

 

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, usually over a period of months or years. Even exposure to small amounts of lead over time can cause serious health problems and children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning.

 

lead danger signAccording to OSHA estimates, approximately 804,000 workers in general industry and an additional 838,000 workers in construction are potentially exposed to lead. Workers are exposed to lead as a result of the production, use, maintenance, recycling, and disposal of lead material and products. Lead exposure occurs in most industry sectors including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, remediation and even recreation.

“Employers who implement appropriate safety controls and procedures can help minimize employee exposure to lead,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator. “The Department of Labor hopes that this collaborative effort will be a valuable tool in our mission to keep employees safe and healthy.”

 

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA fosters collaborative relationships with groups committed to worker safety and health, such as trade and professional organizations, unions, consulates, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses, and educational institutions, to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Alliance partners help OSHA reach targeted audiences – such as employers and workers in high-hazard industries – and give them better access to workplace safety and health tools and information.

 

The SHES group, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, offers a broad range of safety and health services to organizations in Georgia and the Southeast through its Region IV OSHA Training Institute Education Center and OSHA 21D Consultation Program.

 

“These alliances are critically important and effective in pooling our expertise to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities,” said Paul A. Schlumper, SHES’ manager for the Georgia On-Site Safety and Health Consultation Program.

 

Typically, such alliances are comprised of groups working together to develop compliance assistance tools/resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. At the end of 2017, the SHES group was an active participant in five alliances. SHES also was active in seven partnerships last year, and added three more in 2018.  In a partnership, OSHA enters into an extended, voluntary, cooperative relationship with groups of employers, employees, and employee representatives to encourage, assist, and recognize their efforts to eliminate serious hazards and achieve a high level of worker safety and health.

 

“Our role as a member of an alliance or partnership can vary but may include conducting site inspections, conducting monitoring for air contaminants or noise,  attending alliance/partnership meetings, performing training, and development of safety and health resources,” Schlumper said.

 

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

 

About Safety, Health, and Environmental Services:

The Safety, Health, and Environmental Services group (SHES), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology,  promotes excellence in the fields of occupational safety, health, and environmental compliance via the provision of world-class occupational safety and health and relevant training to the business community as a whole in support of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s training mission. SHES also provides on-site consultation services and environmental compliance assistance to small businesses in Georgia; participation in related community outreach; and support in various OSHA-related youth initiatives. For more information, please visit oshainfo.gatech.edu.