When a new employee or contractor steps into a local plant, that individual has been well-versed in advanced levels of safety training, cleared a criminal background check and passed an alcohol and drug test.
That's mission of Decatur's Tennessee Valley Training Center: to educate the area's industrial workforce and clear them for jobs that entail millions of equipment and hazardous chemicals and processes. Gradually, during its 12 years of operation, the quality of employees has increased while job site accidents have dropped, said TVTC Executive Director Jonny Bennett.
"We feel like we are gatekeepers, in a way," he said. "Our clients know that the person they're hiring or coming into their facility is highly-trained, healthy and law-abiding."
TVTC offers a host of services to companies such as Daikin America, Hyosung, 3M, Cargill, Toray and Valero. Many require TVTC training before employment begins and periodically during employment. TVTC was created because industries needed a more standardized orientation training process because contractors, and employees were getting essentially the same lessons at various plants, Bennett said.
"There was a push to eliminate the redundancies," he said. "Eighty percent of training is basic safety orientation, with the remaining 20 percent site specific. Someone can come here and get that orientation out of the way, and then move on to training for their specific company. And that training record stays with them if they move on to other facilities."
The industrial trend seems to be wringing out as much efficiency in workforce development and training so that employees are competent and knowledgeable for their occupational tasks. Those who can get, what Bennett called, their "credentials" — i.e. certified skills and training — stand a better chance of getting a position.
"The biggest issue I see is that plants need workers today, and workers need to possess the necessary skills and training to do the work if they want a job." Bennett said.
TVTC's other services include citizenship verification, pre-hire background investigations and drug screening. It also offers an array of fire safety training, including confined space entry, and lockout and tagout procedures while working on an energized power line, and ladder safety.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts seminars at the facility. While the TVTC centers training on OSHA standards, its main function is to train contractors to meet the plants' specific requirements and prepare them to work safely in those plants.
"So far, our training database includes more than 80,000 people," Bennett said.
The facility, built on three acres donated by Carl Goss off Alabama 20, has three training rooms, an 88-station computer lab and a hands-on training station. Computer lab proctors monitor trainees progress and answer questions.
Participants in site-specific training at the computer lab take tests after going through informational slides, said Operations Director Donna Whitten.
"They have to score an 80 or above to move on," Whitten said. "It's all about transferring that critical information to the worker or contractor."
Tiffeny Owens can be reached at 256-340-2440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Full-service facility focused on safety, health, environmental and workforce development-related topics and services.
Conception: Established by local industry and contractors concerned with availability of workforce properly trained in safety requirements. First training classes began in October 2000 as a nonprofit corporation.
Mission: Standardized and specialized safety training, from awareness level to advanced level training for petro-chemical industry, heavy manufacturing, general industry and industrial and commercial construction.
Funding: Client-based and selfsupporting. It does not accept government funding.
More information: www.tvtc.org
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