Speaking Out for Young Workers

Speaking Out for Young Workers

Commentary and news on occupational health and safety for young workers.


editor's blog

CareerExpo to hit Atlanta March 17-18, 2011

Michelle Dunham, with GTRI, discusses safety with CareerExpo participants

For several years now, Georgia Tech Research Institute has had to pleasure of participating in the annual CEFGA CareerEXPO. Each year, safety and health professionals have provided students attending the event with safety and health briefings prior to entering the event focused on promoting careers in the construction industry. This year, we are excited to be able to not only provide safety briefings for the event participants, but we will also be introducing the new theme for this year's event during a job-site orientation: Design It, Green It, Build It, Energize It, and Operate It.

For more information, please read the following press release or go to www.cefga.org.  


For Immediate Release

Contact: Mitch Leff, mitch@leffassociates.com, (404) 861-4769

March 17-18: 5,000 Georgia Students Learn About Careers in Construction, Design, and Energy at CareerExpo in Atlanta

Construction Education Foundation of Georgia Event Connects Students to Employers and Post-Secondary Training and Education Programs

ATLANTA, February 9, 2011 – The Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) will hold its 7th annual CareerExpo March 17-18, 2011 at the Georgia International Convention Center (2000 Convention Center Concourse). More than 5,000 students from across Georgia will attend the event, the state’s largest youth workforce development event for the construction industry. Students will explore interactive exhibits that demonstrate the scope of the industry and learn about specific career paths by meeting building professionals, trade association representatives and educators from hundreds of organizations across the state including Turner Construction, Perkins + Will, Georgia Power, Georgia Tech, the U.S. Green Building Council Georgia Chapter and many more.

The 2011 Expo will simulate the construction of Arabia Mountain High School, Georgia’s first LEED-Silver public high school. The sights, sounds, and equipment of a real construction site will make the Expo an interactive educational experience. “Our goal is to encourage students to explore and pursue careers in construction, design, and energy,” said Scott Shelar, executive director of the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA).

From designing the school and preparing the site, to constructing and powering the building, students will be invited to participate in the processes and activities critical to delivering a safe, high-quality project. Special emphasis will be placed on green building and safety.

The CareerExpo covers an area the size of six football fields, divided into five distinct areas:

1. Design It: Learn about smart design and technology, including Building Information Modeling

2. Green It: Discover how choices in design, material selection, and construction impact the environment and operating efficiencies

3. Build It: See how Arabia Mountain was built. Step-by-step, students will learn about the trades, professions, tools and technology necessary to turn a plan into a building.

4. Energize It: Understand how the lights actually switch on. Explore how energy is created, transmitted, and distributed.

5. Operate It: Find out how to maximize efficiencies in day-to-day building operations through technology and behavior. “Through hands-on activities at the CareerExpo, the students will learn about specific careers and understand the skills, education, and training necessary for employment in the construction industry,” said Theresa Schroeder of Turner Construction Company.

Who Will Attend:

  • More than 5,000 middle, high school and college students from across Georgia.
  • Professionals from more than 300 companies.
  • Teachers from 180 high school construction training programs and 27 technical colleges.
  • Representatives from technical college, university, and apprenticeship programs.


In conjunction with the CareerExpo, 2,000+ high school and technical college students from across the state will compete in more than 100 leadership and skills competitions at the 2011 SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference.

CareerExpo Participants

Participating Companies and Organizations: Turner Construction Co., Brasfield & Gorrie, Holder Construction Co., Perkins + Will, New South Construction, PCL Industrial Construction Co., Pyramid Masonry, ABC of Georgia, Georgia Branch, AGC, GUCA, Goodman, Independent Electrical Contractors, Atlanta Electrical Contractors Association, Masonry Association of Georgia, American Institute of Architects, Georgia Power, Georgia Energy and Industrial Construction Consortium, OSHA, U.S. Green Building Council Georgia Chapter, Technical College System of Georgia, Southern Polytechnic and Georgia Tech. More information online at www.CEFGA.org.

Digging out of this Trench

Image of footprint in sand

In my last post, I shared a devastating story where a young worker was killed in a trench collapse. In that post, I presented several links to training materials for trenching and excavation. However, what didn't occur to me is how these lessons can be so valuable to anyone at any age.

Growing up, my father was always warning my brother and me about the holes we used to dig in the backyard. Walking around the rather large sandbox area, he would observe our two foot deep hole and warn us that it could cave in on us. My brother and I would roll our eyes, and then fill in the hole. We would always end up losing a Match Box car or two, but thankfully, they were the only casualties. I never realized that the comments made by my seemingly overprotective father would leave a lasting impression in my mind and always leave me cognizant of the dangers associated with trenches.

Fast forward to this morning, when I read in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about two young Cherokee County boys that were digging holes in their backyard and the trench collapsed on them. As I read the article, I could hear my father’s voice warning about trench collapses in my head. While these two boys beat the odds and walked away from the event virtually unharmed, most do not. In a letter written to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, Dr. Bradley A. Maron warned about the hazards associated with the digging of dry-sand holes for recreational purposes. In this letter, Maron cited that of the 52 cases of recreational dry-sand excavation collapses they assembled over a ten-year period, sixty percent of those cases resulted in fatalities. These events occurred either near the shoreline or close to home[1].

While cases of this sort are rare, they remind me that many of the safety and health lessons that we learn at work extend far beyond the jobsite and that we should not forget these lessons when we clock out and go home.

What are some of the lessons that you have learned at work that you were able to apply to recreational life? Please leave your comments below.  

[1]Bradley A. Maron, Tammy S. Haas, & Barry J. Maron. (2007). Sudden Death from Collapsing Sand Holes. The New England Journal of Medicine, 356(25), 2655-6.  Retrieved February 25, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1292410971).



Young Worker Killed In Trench Collapse

While watching the evening news two days ago, I saw an all too familiar story, another trench collapse, another body recovery.

Man Killed in Forsyth Co. Trench Collapse: MyFoxATLANTA.com

Aaron Banks, a construction contractor, was only 20 years old when he died on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 while working on a residential construction site. Now, his family will wait while OSHA investigates the cause of the collapse.

For more information about the trench collapse, please read this article from the Forsyth County News.

In 2009, there were 80 workers that died as a result of being caught in or crushed in collapsing materials. As an employer, you may be asking yourself how could you prevent something like this from happening at your workplace? There a wide variety of resources that are only a click away.

OSHA have several training resources available:

-OSHA Construction eTool: Trenching and Excavation

-OSHA Safety Topic Page: Trenching and Excavation

Several training resources available through Georgia Tech's Occupational Safety and Health Programs include:

- An online training program, developed through a Susan Harwood Targeted Training grant, is available that focuses on Residential Renovation and Remodeling. This online training can either be viewed in its entirety or in short clips in the field using our OSHAinfo YouTube Channel. This course is available in both English and Spanish.

Training videos found on the OSHAinfo YouTube Channel are meant to be used in the field and viewable from a cell phone , laptop, or other mobile device. 

Here are two toolbox training videos specific to excavation and trenching.

The English version:

The version in Spanish:


What training resources do you have available for trenching and excavation? Please comment below.

British Safety Council's Speak Up Stay Safe Campaign

Today I happened to stumble upon this training video created by the British Safety Council's Speak Up Stay Safe Campaign. I thought I would share it with all our blog readers this morning because in less than three minutes, it presents a concise, effective message on how to stay safe. Check it out!


Georgia Occupational & Environmental Health Symposium

The Georgia Component of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine is a group of physicians dedicated to the prevention and treatment of work-related injury and illness across the state of Georgia. They are hosting the 2011 Georgia Occupational and Environmental Medicine Symposium for the Georgia Chapter, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine on Saturday, February 12, 2011 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel Atlanta Airport, 1900 Sullivan Road, College Park, GA 30337. For more information, or if you are interested in participating, please check out their website: http://www.acoemga.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=41&Itemid=212.


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