BY Amanda Sotelo

Marco Salinas from the Brownsville Public Utilities Board hung from a harness and was hoisted down a makeshift manhole during confined space training at the Infrastructure and Safety Summit recently hosted at Texas State Technical College.

“I told them not to drop me,” said Salinas jokingly. “In all seriousness though, I’m glad TSTC is hosting this. Safety is important and can’t be taken lightly. These trainings have the power to save lives.”

The summit organized by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), the second largest Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training center in the nation, partnered with TSTC’s Continuing Education department to offer low-cost training tracks for employers.

More than 400 people from TSTC, municipalities and construction companies from across South and East Texas took advantage of the week-long summit and the 24 courses offered.

Classes ranged from basic code enforcement and health hazard awareness to confined space entry and excavation, trenching and soil mechanics.

For Salinas and his team, attending the confined space training was a no brainer. The class which regularly costs $700 was reduced to $95. OSHA safety trainings generally range from $395 to $900.

“As a supervisor it is my responsibility to train my employees properly and get them home to their families at night,” said Salinas. “And this summit gave us the convenience of learning close to home, and getting more people trained.”

The Infrastructure and Safety Summit makes it down to the Valley every two years and this is the first time TSTC has been asked to host.

Donna Zatopek, TEEX administrative coordinator, said they were excited to create this partnership with TSTC, which will last long after the summit finishes.

“TSTC has helped us so much and has gone out of its way to make sure this event is successful,” said Zatopek. “Working with them is a great opportunity for all of us involved. This is only the beginning.”

Starting in Fall 2017, TSTC’s Continuing Education department will be the only facility in South Texas to offer OSHA safety Certification trainings year-round through TEEX.

Myra Deleon said the discussion to assist TEEX with these trainings began while organizing the summit. The agreement is in place and will offer companies and its employers the opportunity for localized training, which will range from eight hours to one week depending on the certification.

Deleon also added that the instructors, many of whom are already TSTC employees, completed their required training by earning certifications and co-teaching hours during the summit.

“The vision of becoming an OSHA training facility has been in works for a while. And hosting this summit has opened that door,” said Deleon. “Not only is this a great opportunity for employers but it’s also a great way to increase awareness on TSTC and our programs.”

For more information on TEEX and the upcoming OSHA certification trainings at TSTC, call Continuing Education at 956-364-4567.