Oregon OSHA's

Health and Safety Resource

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December 2016

Going the distance

with Craig hamelund, Oregon OSHA's safety training specialist

Photo of Craig Hamelund standing at a podium
Craig Hamelund, Safety training specialist, speaks at an all-staff symposium for Oregon OSHA employees.

Employees provide tremendous insight and creative solutions, and their involvement can breed ownership."

Craig Hamelund

Craig has been with Oregon OSHA for 21 years. He started as a safety compliance officer in 1995 at the agency's Medford field office and later taught public education workshops throughout the state until he joined Oregon OSHA's staff education section in 2006. He currently works out of Oregon OSHA's Portland field office where he coordinates Oregon OSHA's training program, trains staff, and presents workshops at many of Oregon OSHA's safety and health conferences.

Craig grew up in Big Rapids, Mich., and attended Ferris State University, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in industrial safety. When he wasn't studying, Craig did maintenance work at Ewigleben Ice Arena (home of Bulldog hockey!) on the Ferris campus. He did everything from sharpening skates and driving the Zamboni to cleaning bleachers and waxing the Plexiglas.

Craig served a stint as an intern with Michigan OSHA, monitored asbestos abatement for a Michigan environmental and industrial hygiene consulting firm, and then headed south to become a safety compliance officer with South Carolina OSHA.

Outside of work, Craig and his wife, Sherrie, spend much of their time with their two children, Mollie and Jackson.

What do you think is the best part of your job – and the biggest challenge?

I look at my job as having two best parts. First, I enjoy having the opportunity to really get to know all Oregon OSHA staff. Whether it's spending some quality class time with them or directly working alongside them coordinating and delivering training. For new hires, it's learning their various backgrounds, specialties, and interests. And for our not-so-new hires, it's getting to know them better or, in my case, remembering things about them I have forgotten.

Second, I truly appreciate the chance to partner with (and get to know) the terrific folks outside of Oregon OSHA who help us immensely with training and other opportunities for our staff. We're lucky to have so many wonderful safety and health professionals here in the Pacific Northwest and my job allows me to interact with them often.

A challenge in my job – but a challenge I enjoy – is researching and developing training topics I haven't had much (if any) experience in. This is where I greatly rely on the support of my colleagues (both inside and outside of Oregon OSHA) to educate me and steer me in the right direction.

We're lucky to have so many wonderful safety and health professionals here in the Pacific Northwest and my job allows me to interact with them often.”

~ Craig Hamelund

 

You've put a lot of work into getting "forklift rodeos" started throughout the state, most notably at the biennial GOSH conferences. How did you get started doing that?

I give Sharell Lien, Oregon OSHA's top-shelf conference manager, all of the credit here. We certainly knew of the forklift rodeo regionals and finals in the state of Washington and Sharell had the vision to host our own "Columbia Forklift Challenge" starting in 2011. We've had much help and support from many industry partners, Oregon OSHA staff, and several of the fine folks involved with the Washington rodeos to help make our competitions a success.

 

Craig mans the grill at a mobile crane training hosted by Hoffman Construction Co. "We grilled meat for lunches froom Gartner's German Meat Market up the street (NE Killingsworth)."

Craig mans the grill at a mobile crane training hosted by Hoffman Construction Co.

Next year, there will be two significant changes in Oregon OSHA's fall protection requirements for the construction industry: the trigger height requirement for fall protection will change from 10 feet to six feet in January, and slide guards will no longer be permitted for fall protection in October. What training tips would you offer to contractors to help them comply?

First and foremost, my biggest suggestion for contractors is to always be learning and seeking the advice of many of the industry experts and safety professionals we have locally. Equipment manufacturer representatives are experts in fall protection gear and equipment, and follow the latest industry consensus standards. Networking with other contractors and receiving consultations from Oregon OSHA, workers' compensation carriers, and consultants can provide enormous value and provide contractors with other options beyond personal fall protection. Also, I strongly encourage contractors to attend training workshops and conferences throughout the state, and consider becoming involved with our Construction Advisory Committee.

My training tip to contractors is to keep the instruction lively and involve employees. Employees provide tremendous insight and creative solutions, and their involvement can breed ownership. Incorporate as much hands-on activity and demonstrations (such as trailer demonstrations from equipment suppliers) to keep the training dynamic. And along with focusing on the ABCs (anchorages, body harnesses, and connectors) during fall protection training, be sure employees know how to calculate fall distances and understand the arresting forces created during a fall arrest.

I've been fortunate to have supportive managers and lucky to have terrific, smart, and helpful colleagues and industry partners along the way."

Craig Hamelund

 

Employee training is an essential part of an effective safety program. Are there any safety and health training issues that employers could focus on to improve their programs?

Involving employees in training is key. Employees who are included in the planning and delivery are assets as they are the resident experts in the hazards they face, solutions that work, and effective ways to communicate with others (including helping with any language barriers). For younger workers, continue to offer a variety of training methods to keep it meaningful, including what can be shared via phones and other mobile devices. And recognizing employees for their ideas, efforts, and participation can go a long way. Oh, and don't forget the mountain of information found in the many textbooks and DVDs available for loan in Oregon OSHA's Resource Center.

You've taught or organized safety and health classes on topics ranging from agriculture to welding – how do you do it? Do you have a favorite training topic?

I do it with lots of help and support. I've been fortunate to have supportive managers and lucky to have terrific, smart, and helpful colleagues and industry partners along the way. My favorite training topic is the one where it appeared everyone enjoyed it!


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