Getting Carded

Increased printing capacity helps company spread the word on safety

The potential for catastrophic injury in the petrochemical industry makes safety training and credentialing of employees imperative. Coordinating this process for a variety of industries, including many in the petrochemical fields of southern Alabama, is Training Solutions for Construction and Industry.

The mission of TSCI is to promote and facilitate work force development “by providing industry-recognized training with portable credentials to create a diverse, trained and sustainable work force.” TSCI provides computer-based and instructor-led training developed by the Association of Reciprocal Safety Councils and based on requirements from Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. Within one day, a person can gain all of his or her required training for a year, and it will be accredited.

The Card-Carrying Approach
Workers who successfully complete a TSCI safety orientation receive a tamperproof ID card, encoded with the results of his or her training.

“ID cards give students a record of their training and eventual access to a plant,” said Jack Fecas, operations manager of TSCI.

The card is valid for one year. If other safety or specialized training is completed during that year, the card is encoded with the additional credentials. All member plants of TSCI and ARSC member organizations recognize and accept the ID card.

Workers look to TSCI for training in such areas as fire safety, process safety management, confined space entry, respiratory protection, hazardous energy, basic first aid and CPR, scissor lift, scaffolding, excavation and trenching, elevated work surfaces, electrical safety and disaster site safety. The Office of Homeland Security also can set criteria for credentialing, such as asking for drug screen results.

In addition to its basic orientation training programs, TSCI also provides site-specific training, which might include a focus on fires or explosions at a refinery or dustparticle respiratory safety at a mill.

“Some companies using dangerous materials have wind socks to indicate which direction the wind is blowing, telling employees which exit route is safe for use at that time,” Fecas said. “This kind of training needs to be site specific.”

Other site-specific training might include basic alarm system safety, teaching employees what to do when they hear a constant alarm versus what they might do if they hear several short bursts of an alarm. About 1,500 workers take the basic orientation program from TSCI every year, and the numbers are growing. However, the company only had one card printer. Clearly, more capacity was needed.

A Secure Solution
Fecas knew his organization needed more capacity to handle the increasing volume, so he began looking for an additional printer—one that was fast yet reliable. He needed bar code technology and a printer that could encode new data as workers took additional classes. TSCI found all of the requirements it was seeking in Fargo’s DTC550 Direct-to-Card printer/encoder from ID Wholesaler.

Not surprisingly, the security offered by the printer was a primary selling point for Fecas. In addition to being recommended by other ARSC Safety Councils, it just made good business sense. TSCI chose a standard holographic overlaminate available with the DTC550, which improves the card’s durability and reduces the risk of counterfeiting.

More than 80 percent of training occurs at the TSCI offices, Fecas said, but it also can take place at a plant site. With the new printer able to handle the increasing demand at TSCI, the old printer will be used for remote training, thus increasing TSCI’s ability to meet the needs of its customers.

“The common curriculum of our safety training levels the playing field, so when workers leave TSCI they can recognize the hazards in the worksite and protect themselves and their coworkers,” Fecas said. “They still have information to learn at the plant, but they are ready to go to work.

“We have had ID cards since 1995, but with the early cards, there was much more hand-work. Our operator had to add a photo by hand and then wait for the laminating machine to heat up before the card could be laminated. The evolution has been very interesting. In addition, we have been very pleased with the service provided by the Fargo printer and by ID Wholesaler. I can pick up the phone or send an e-mail, and a representative is available for assistance.

“If a company is going to do business nowadays, it needs to be secure,” Fecas said. “Our business relies on plants and regulatory agencies trusting what we do. We need to be on the cutting edge when it comes to information technology. The best system is the most secure system. We made a decision to go with what has been tried and true and is working in the industry now. We have to have the most secure equipment that’s out there. Fargo’s printer is head and shoulders above the competition.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Security Today.

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