Safety Fest: it’s a big deal at a bargain price (free)

Everybody in the Department of Energy world talks about safety, preaches it daily if not hourly. Because if there’s an accident with injuries — or worse — the ramifications are huge. But next month’s Safety Fest goes beyond any obligatory homage to safety and offers a bunch of training to anybody and everybody — including construction outfits and small businesses with no ties to DOE or the federal government. And it’s FREE. All you have to do is register and show up.

There are about 40 courses available at the week-long Safety Fest — everything from chainsaw safety to ergonomics in the nursing home. There will also be exhibits and maybe even a little entertainment, such as watching people try to maintain their balance on the URS slip simulator (yeah, it’s apparently like trying to walk on ice).

The event will be held Sept. 9-13 at the New Hope Center, 602 Scarboro Rd., at the front of the Y-12 National Security Complex. It’s presented by the Oak Ridge Business Safety Partnership, which is a collective effort of DOE, the National Nuclear Security Administration, contractors and subcontractors, and the Oak Ridge unions.

I talked this afternoon with Jenny Freeman of Strata-G, LLC, who is very much involved with the safety partnership and heads the planning committee for Safety Fest Tn. Why should people care about this event?

“First of all, it’s a week of free training to anybody who wants to register,” Freeman said.

This is just the second year of Safety Fest, and Freeman said new classes have been added, with a greater emphasis on trying to reach small companies that may not otherwise be able to afford adequate safety training for their employees.

The event will also try to leverage the safety knowledge of some of the major corporations doing business in East Tennessee, such as Volkswagen, ALCOA, etc., sharing best practices and ways of doing work safely. That’s being called World Class Safety in Our Backyard.

There will also be a Safety Expo on the front end of the week-long event, where vendors are being invited to show off their equipment or services.

One of the key speakers at the event is Steve Hawkins, administrator for the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He’ll be keynote speaker on Monday. Sept. 9 at 5 p.m.