Saturday, December 17, 2016

'Safety Matters': A successful launch on Cape Cod to the 7th grade at Monomoy Regional Middle School

'Safety Matters' has officially been launched on Cape Cod. I gave three back-to- back presentations to over 100 7th graders who attend the Monomoy Regional Middle School in Chatham, MA (Cape Cod) on Friday December 16, 2016. The 7th grade students had an abbreviated schedule: 30 minute blocks of curriculum today instead of the usual 50 minute blocks to accommodate an enrichment at the end of the day facilitated by the Museum of Science. I presented the 'Safety Matters' training module to each of the three groups during their science block in the auditorium. 

What exactly is 'Safety Matters'? Safety Matters is an educational module developed jointly by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) designed to be facilitated by AIHA member volunteers, like myself, grassroots-style, in their own communities to students in grades 7-12. The intention of this program is to provide general awareness of potential safety hazards on the job and teach young workers how to identify these hazards and ultimately to prevent job-related injuries by knowing their rights to a safe and healthy workplace. Ideally, once a set of students are trained, the teacher can add the training materials into their curriculum for the following year.

Why launch at Monomoy? Why not Barnstable (where I live) or Sandwich (where I work) both of which are where I usually do my science education outreach programs like the Cape Cod Science Cafe, Wicked Cool Autumn Welcome or STEM Journey? In my experience, part of being successful with this type of program launch is launching where people WANT the programming. I announced on Facebook last August that I was pitching the pilot program 'Safety Matters on Cape Cod' to the American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Health and Safety Executive Committee seeking their endorsement since this type of education program is in their wheelhouse. Here's the link to Monomoy: Nancy Gifford, my friend and fellow organizing partner on the aforementioned science outreach events, commented on my Facebook post that she "can't wait for [me] to come to Monomoy". So that's how Monomoy claimed the premiere of 'Safety Matters'. The Cape Cod Chronicle was kind enough to send reporter Alan Pollock to cover the story. Read it here.

NIOSH and AIHA did a spectacular job preparing the Safety Matters materials for volunteers to use. Notably, in each of the three groups I had students share about someone that they knew who had been injured on the job. These were common injuries that included slips, trips, falls, and one student mentioned that his father hurt his back while taking a lobster trap out of the ocean. Having these discussions throughout the presentation really engaged the students, the embedded videos in the presentation (particularly 'Mallory's Story) evoke emotion, although there is a tendency for the students to 'blame the worker' in these scenarios and I kept stressing that the worker has a right to a safe workplace. I passed my laser pointer around to the students during the segments where there are illustrated drawings of some 'very unsafe' workplaces. This was a huge hit and really made the students part of the presentation.

My goal for 2017 is to bring 'Safety Matters' to all of the Cape and Islands school districts. Call it a bit of the 'go big or go home' sentiment but having the ability to achieve something so impactful across the region like helping shape the safety culture for young workers is pretty amazing. And I'm lucky to have the support of my company, PID Analyzers, LLC (allowing me the time this project will take) and the publicity my professional societies  AIHA and ACS will give me,  so I can share my 'Safety Matters on Cape Cod' story.

 I'm scheduled to go back to Monomoy in January to present to those that missed the presentation today. 

Read my first blog post about 'Safety Matters':http://analyzersource.blogspot.com/2016/12/safety-matters-on-cape-cod.html .

Contact me if you are interested in conducting Safety Matters in your community.

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