Brorson headshot

Safety award honorees from 2019, 2020 acknowledged during conference

Every year, the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust Inc. (SMOHIT) hosts two contests open to members and contractors: the Safety Matters Awards and the Safety Design Contest. During this year’s virtual conference, winners of 2019 and 2020 awards from both contests were celebrated, due to the cancelation of the 2020 Safety Champions Conference last year.

The 2019 Safety Matters Award recipients, who would have accepted their awards at the 2020 conference, were Jake Boulware, safety director at Total Mechanical in Pewaukee, Wisconsin; Al Blanco, Jr., training director at Sheet Metal Workers Local 359’s training center in Phoenix; Paul Crist, business agent, Sheet Metal Workers Local 71 in Buffalo, New York; Mike Hilgert, owner of Superior Duct Fabrication in Pomona, California; Jamie DeVan, Mid-Atlantic safety manager for Southland Industries in the Washington, D.C., area; and CJ Hansen Co. Inc., mechanical contractors from Salem, Oregon.

The 2020 Safety Matters Award recipients included the following:
Rachel Brorson, large program site engineer for MG McGrath Inc., in Maplewood, Minnesota
The safety record and the shift in safety culture over the last three projects illustrate the impact Rachel Brorson has made at MG McGrath Inc. During the design, construction and completion of the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee and Chase Center in San Francisco — 98,000 work hours — there was one Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR). Safety data also shows a paradigm shift in safety culture and results-oriented core values.

John White Jr., Tom Sawyer, Steve Dalebroux, Mike Klemp and Greg Springstroh, Tweet/Garot Mechanical, Inc., Aurora Hospital job site, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
On Oct. 15, Local 18 sheet metal workers working for Tweet/Garot Mechanical, Inc., at the Advocate Aurora Health Medical Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, saved a brother’s life by using an AED and taking turns providing John White Jr. with CPR for nearly 30 minutes before emergency services arrived. Because of the quick response of his fellow members, as well as union steamfitters and insulators on the job site, White is on the road to recovery.

ACCO Engineered Systems/George H. Wilson Mechanical Contractors, Northern California Safety Team, Santa Cruz, California
George H. Wilson Mechanical Contractors, a family-owned company in Santa Cruz, California, since 1921, struggled in 2019 with safety protocol and injuries in the shop and on the job site, with seven recordable injuries and nine days of lost work. After ACCO acquired the company, a dedicated safety manager was hired for the shop who worked to implement training, safety flashes, health and wellness seminars and several other tactics. In George H. Wilson’s 2020 fiscal year safety report, the company was able to reduce its number of recordable injuries to one, with zero days of lost work.

Southland Industries, Southern California Division, Garden Grove, California
In December, the Southland Industries Southern California Division celebrated 12 years and 7.5 years in the field without a single lost-time accident. This division also worked more than 400 days and 500,000 hours without a single recordable injury.

Ryder Hart, Sheet Metal Workers Local 399, North Charleston, South Carolina
Ryder Hart has only been a journey-level worker for two years, but he’s making a positive impact on the safety apprentices at Local 399’s training center in North Charleston, South Carolina. Now an instructor, Hart took it upon himself to establish a safety culture at the training center, making certain safety in the classrooms and fabrication shop is maintained.

Participants in the Safety Design Contest submit their ideas to promote a positive safety culture at their local, and professional graphic designers help to fully realize and design those ideas. Those chosen as winners receive shirts and other materials to help promote the safety culture at their local.

The 2019 Safety Design winners included Patrick Edmonds, Sheet Metal Workers Local 19, Central Pennsylvania training center; Joe Bernstein, Sheet Metal Workers Local 22; and David Gauthier, Sheet Metal Workers Local 206.

The 2020 Safety Design winners included Craig Wagner, Sheet Metal Workers Local 18; Sharon Walker, Sheet Metal Workers Local 24; and Steve Goolsby, Sheet Metal Workers Local 177.

Jointly sponsored by the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers, and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) Inc. was founded in 1986 to address the impact of decades-long asbestos exposure on those working in the sheet metal industry. To date, tens of thousands of union sheet metal workers have been screened as part of its ongoing Job Hazards Screening program (formerly Asbestos Screening).

SMOHIT has since expanded its mission to operate on four separate but related tracks: monitor and document the health of union sheet metal workers related to workplace exposures and hazards; provide safety information and training to promote best practices on and off the job; advocate for the physical, mental and emotional health and safety of SMART and SMACNA members with government and through likeminded allied organizations; and provide diet, exercise and other lifestyle information to address the health and wellness of union members and contractors.

For more information on SMOHIT, visit or call 703-739-7130.Safety Matters Awards and the Safety Design Contest.

2020 Safety Champions Conference, ACCO Engineered Systems/George H. Wilson Mechanical Contractors, Al Blanco Jr., CJ Hansen Co. Inc., Craig Wagner, David Gauthier, Greg Springstroh, International Association of Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation (SMART), Jake Boulware, Jamie Devan, Job Hazards Screening program, Joe Bernstein, John White Jr., MG McGrath Inc., Mike Hilgert, Mike Klemp, Patrick Edmonds, Paul Crist, Rachel Brorson, Ryder Hart, Safety Matters Awards and the Safety Design Contest., Sharon Walker, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA), Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust Inc. (SMOHIT), Sheet Metal Workers Local 177, Sheet Metal Workers Local 18, Sheet Metal Workers Local 19, Sheet Metal Workers Local 206, Sheet Metal Workers Local 22, Sheet Metal Workers Local 24, Sheet Metal Workers Local 359, Sheet Metal Workers Local 399, Sheet Metal Workers Local 71, Southland Industries, Steve Dalebroux, Steve Goolsby, Superior Duct Fabrication, Tom Sawyer, Total Mechanical, Tweet/Garot Mechanical Inc.
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