TSTC Emphasizes Construction Safety to Students

(WACO, Texas) – The construction industry needs well-trained workers who have a safety-first mentality. Texas State Technical College prepares them for that. 

“We are short on workers and losing them regularly due to the retirement age,” said K. Paul Holt, president and chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America’s Central Texas Chapter in Waco. “The construction field has evolved to the point where young people getting involved in building construction technology with a construction science or engineering degree enter at a higher level and are better prepared to become leaders.”

Students in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology, Electrical Construction, Energy Efficiency Specialist, Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology and Solar Energy Technology programs take classes on building codes and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

 Hugh Whitted, an instructor in TSTC’s Solar Energy Technology program, said safety is the first thing discussed with students in all of the construction-related programs.

“Most of the students we get are students who come from rural areas and small schools that have strong vocational programs,” he said. “So, they are already fascinated with the trades anyway, and they bring that with them to TSTC.”

Bobby Horner, a graduate of TSTC’s Architectural Drafting and Design program and an inspection supervisor for the city of Waco, said students who want to pursue the construction field or its specialties need to know about International Code Council and OSHA guidelines. 

“If someone leaves TSTC and wants to be a construction manager, they are kind of geared to thinking that way,” Horner said. “They need to know the safety features.”

Holt said it is important for construction students to pay attention to what they are being taught about building codes. He said learning how to maintain safety the first time will help once they are working on job sites.

“The main thing is most construction safety is based upon common sense,” Holt said. “We have a habit of sometimes picking up bad habits or shortcuts that we don’t necessarily think about.”

The United States’ construction industry had more than 1,000 on-the-job deaths in 2018, according to OSHA, which estimates more than 500 workers’ lives could have been saved with more attention to safety.

The National Safety Council recommends that people reduce falls by not leaning or reaching while on ladders, working in inclement weather, or setting up heavy equipment on unlevel ground.

Holt said following safety and construction guidelines can mean quicker completion time for projects.

“The combination of less time off for injuries and accidents and lower insurance rates winds up being a win-win for the contractor,” Holt said.

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.