Safety Goes Beyond at Merrillville Expo

Safety Goes Beyond at Merrillville Expo


MERRILLVILLE–An OSHA 30 instructor for the Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, Jennifer Jakubielski was intrigued Wednesday by a saw that stops automatically upon contact with skin.

She said carpenters use table saws and it’s not uncommon for some of them to remove the guards for convenience sake, a move that could result in injuries to the fingers and hand.

“I urge my students not to do that,” she said.

Jakubielski said the SawStop was just one of several safety innovations and measures she discovered while attending the 5th Annual Beyond Safety Conference & Expo at the Radisson with her husband, Jeff Jakubielski.

“I’m finding a lot of good ideas here, many of which I can share with my students,” she said.

The two-day expo was a combined effort between the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable, American Society of Safety Engineers and many industry partners. The event draws about 600 safety professionals each year and includes more than 50 exhibitors and 25 educational sessions.

“The people here are sharing ideas and collaborating with one another. It’s all about learning and sharing,” said Andrea Pearman, executive director of Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable and coordinator of the event.

She said many of the vendors exhibiting products, training and other services at the expo are certified trainers or experts in their field.

Russ Perez, a training specialist with Fessco Fire Equipment Sales and Services Inc. in Crete, Ill., drew a group to his exhibit, which included a large screen featuring a virtual fire on a paved lot outside a business.

Participants were given a fire extinguisher to virtually snuff out the blaze, which Perez said was caused by a flammable liquid spill.

“You have to cover the whole fire in one swoop. If you don’t get the whole thing, it will reflash,” Perez explained as one participant tried repeatedly to put out the fire, only to have it reignite over and over again.

At another exhibit, two women were taking a grip strength test with a Dynamometer.

“It shows what you can grip in one hand,” said Gail Mathews, with Franciscan Working Well.

She said Franciscan Working Well offers the test to some companies in post-offer screenings. She said grip strength is important in manufacturing jobs if the employee will need to use heavy tools.

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