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NIU alumna wins grant to help workers in the region stay safe on the job

January 7, 2019

NIU alumna Pettee Guerrero is passionate about helping workers stay safe and healthy on the job. “We rely on workers to provide so much to our communities, to make possible the industries that fuel our economy in northern Illinois,” she says. “The workers are someone’s mother, father, child, husband or wife. They are all important to their loved ones, and it’s so important that they know that their health and safety matter.”

That’s why Guerrero, an alumna who earned her master’s degree in industrial management from the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, is so excited to be able to offer machinery and machine guard training to workers in the region free of charge, thanks to a Susan Harwood Training Grant.

Guerrero applied for the federal grant in her role as director of the NIU Center for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Training in the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development. The NIU center is one of 74 nonprofits nationwide to be awarded a 2018 Susan Harwood Training Grant.

The grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will provide $99,600 for the center to develop new training materials and offer the training to about 350 workers in the region beginning in January 2019. The training will help workers recognize and avoid hazards when working with augers, conveyors, mixers, roll formers, robots and other basic machinery in general industry. The target audience for the training includes young workers, minorities and workers with limited English proficiency.

“I love NIU and the northern Illinois region,” Guerrero says. “It feels good to be able to give back to the community by helping workers stay safe and healthy on the job.”

Guerrero, who also directs the National Safety Education Center, an OSHA-authorized education center at NIU, says, “I realized that there was a need for this type of safety training through my work with the National Safety Education Center, so I decided to apply for the grant.”

“We’re very pleased to be able to offer this training to workers in the region at no cost to the trainees,” she continues. “The training will bring awareness to hazards and teach workers how to find them, eliminate them and apply proper guards to prevent future accidents. This will help prevent amputations, other injuries and fatalities. It will help workers come home safely to their families each day.”

Guerrero says the training will be available to businesses that would like to offer it onsite for their employees. The training will be offered on a monthly basis at various NIU Regional Centers as well as the main campus in DeKalb. It will be available in 2-hour, 4-hour or 8-hour sessions.

With questions, or to schedule a free machinery and machine guard training at your business or attend a training session at an NIU campus or regional center, contact Pettee Guerrero at 815-753-6903 or [email protected].