Badging up for a safe workplace

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Covid-19 safety training in Maine is helping workers go beyond safety basics.

Maine’s community colleges are training Mainers to be healthy and safe in the Covid-19 era.

Over the past seven months, that more than 10,000 people in Maine have completed Covid-19 safety training from the state’s community colleges, according to Maine Quality Centers (MQC) – the short-term training arm of the Maine Community College System (MCCS).

Last year, Maine’s hospitality and tourism industry was preparing for a summer season in the midst of a pandemic, and wanted a way to assure customers that businesses were doing everything possible to be Covid-safe.

MQC and partners HospitalityMaine and Eastern Maine Community College developed and launched the first Covid safety training program in June aimed at restaurant workers. Demand for similar programming grew and MQC developed more industry-specific Covid-19 readiness training programs.

So far, more than 2,000 food service workers have successfully completed the training, earning a Covid-19 readiness badge, as have more than 700 lodging workers and nearly 400 ski resort workers. A new childcare worker badge will be launched soon, and plans are in the works for other industries. More than 6,000 MCCS employees and students have also earned Covid-19 readiness badges, according to an MCCS release.

“When you know the workers are trained — and the businesses care enough to make sure their employees have the latest information — customers can shop or ski or eat in those places with confidence,” said MCCS Chief Workforce Development Officer Dan Belyea. “We may all be familiar with the basics of masking and distancing and hand washing, but these workers need additional training to suit their workplace.”

A new HVAC training program is the latest in the Covid safety training program.  MCCS, Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC) and the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council created this program out of a demand for consistent understanding about the role air flow and ventilation play in the spread of the coronavirus, and the best way to maintain and improve air quality systems.

Planners developed the course with K-12 schools in mind, but the program applies to HVAC issues in commercial buildings. Those completing the program will receive an HVAC safety badge.

“We are proud to respond to the needs of our K-12 partners in keeping their students, teachers, and staff safe. These badge pathways help get the pertinent information out there,” said Chris Winstead, director of workforce development at EMCC, in a release.

Training in stress management and de-escalation also is available through MQC. The free online training gives employees the tools to create a safe environment for themselves, their colleagues and their customers.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.