Lake safety trainers mark 30 years in Midland

Ashley Schafer
Midland Daily News

Midland — When you say goodbye to your loved ones in the morning before you head to work, you shouldn’t have to wonder if you will return home safely later that day.

You shouldn’t have to fear for your health and safety while you’re at work.

In this June 12, 2019 photo, Jethro Roemer, a fall protection specialist with 3M, demonstrates how to use various tools for fall prevention during a 30th anniversary celebration for the Great Lakes Safety Training Center in Midland.

But without proper safety training, adequate background screenings and routine safety audits, the risk of injury on the job is greater. Especially for those working with heavy equipment, such as contractors or those working with hazardous chemicals, like the employees of Dow.

The members of Great Lakes Safety Training Center, a Midland-based nonprofit, recognized the need and the importance of safety training for area employees more than 30 years ago.

“Before the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) act in the early 70s, safety wasn’t a huge priority on job sites,” said GLSTC Executive Director Kelly Juday. “But this region has always been a leader as far as blazing the forefront to try and keep people safe.”

GLSTC is celebrating 30 years of keeping employees in, and beyond, the region safe on the job.

They have evolved and grown over those 30 years as well, becoming a member-based organization, expanding services and cultivating a culture of safety in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Their motto is this: “Preparing people to live and work safely every day.”

And the center’s 30th anniversary comes at a time when two new large corporations have been established in the area — DuPont and Corteva AgriScience.

“We’re really excited about the new partnerships that we have with DuPont and Corteva — the new spins here in the region,” Juday said. “They still are utilizing us for training services for their contractors as well as their direct employees.”

GLSTC’s services include dozens of courses on and offline, specialized programs, background and security checks, safety audits and more.

They work with large corporations, such as Nexteer and SC Johnson, all the way down to single individuals, Juday said.

While GLSTC offers online courses, Juday said the focus is still on interactive-type learning to provide the best experience possible for members.

“There’s serious injury that can happen if you’re not watching what you’re doing on the job,” Juday said.

“So, while we offer some online training courses, we really still believe in that one-on-one connection, the instructor-led and the hands-on type opportunities.”

Together, all of the services offered at GLSTC create a “blended approach” to learning the best safety practices across industries.

And safety is especially important when it comes to handling chemicals, said Mike Syrylo, environmental health and safety delivery leader at Dow.

“When you start looking at the materials that we’re handling, the impact on our communities, we want to make sure that we have that positive impact on our communities and we do that through our safety program,” Syrylo said. “So, whether you’re working directly with Dow or whether you’re working as a contract employee with Dow, safety is our top priority.”

GLSTC is located at 1900 Ridgewood Drive in Midland and has been there for about nine years. The location has afforded them a space for a hands-on training lab and multiple classrooms, but they are growing out of the space.

“We’ve been seeing an increased need in safety training and it’s a good sign that these companies want to keep their employees safe because it’s hard to find good employees to keep in any job these days,” Juday said.

To remedy the problem, the center is remodeling the interior of its building and working to expand the parking lot, which will have a designated area for forklift training.

“We’re going to be milking every ounce of parking lot that we can out of this property,” Juday said.