As one of his first actions as program director in 2021, Aldo Zambetti created the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) Safety Committee, a hand-picked group of longtime safety experts from around the country who meet in person twice a year to discuss specific safety needs of instructors and trainers.
The Safety Committee includes Tim Myres, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 administrator in northern California; Darek Scarlavai, Sheet Metal Workers Local 7 training coordinator in Michigan; John Espinos, Sheet Metal Workers Local 27 training coordinator in central and southern New Jersey; and Greg Daniels, Sheet Metal Workers Local 9 instructor and program manager for the Colorado location of the International Association of Air, Rail and Transportation workers (SMART) Heroes, a program that welcomes military service members into sheet metal apprenticeship. Zambetti serves as facilitator of the committee.
At the start, the committee held meetings every other month and as needed via Zoom. Now, with a formalized schedule in place, the committee meets every six months at SMOHIT headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. While the committee remains small and nimble, they can tap the expertise of subject matter experts such as Lisa Davis, HVACR service and testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) specialist for the International Training Institute (ITI), who recently weighed in on women’s needs as they pertain to safety.
“Serving on the SMOHIT safety committee has been a great experience so far,” Scarlavai said. “The individuals that accompany me as committee members are some of the most respected sheet metal workers from across the country. The input that is brought to the table about different safety topics during our meetings is going to provide our members with so many good resources in the future.”
Members of the committee meet in person for a day-and-a-half, with that time earmarked for big-picture discussions, but remain in touch during the interim to handle any details that arise.
“We want every second of the time that we’re together to be beneficial and valuable for the members,” Zambetti stated. “So, we take care of all the other stuff — the speed bumps — when we can, either on the phone or by Zoom.”
Although subject matter experts help inform the discussion, the committee decides how best to utilize the newest information in terms of SMOHIT’s website resources, seminars and workshops. Currently, the safety committee has prioritized standardizing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outreach resources and examining any and all mental health resources.
“Our approach is to actively assess needs on an ongoing basis and constantly build out resources, refining and adding to what SMOHIT can deliver,” Zambetti said. “I did not want the committee to just be a review of all the things we have already.”
Scarlavai, who is an outreach instructor for OSHA 1910 and 1926 courses, as well as an approved instructor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) under Part 46 and 48, views the purpose of the committee as helping to steer the safety culture of the sheet metal industry, which positively benefits the entire membership.
“Being a part of this committee has been a very rewarding experience . . . to know that the ideas we brainstorm will become resources available to the entire membership, and ultimately keep them safe on the job so they are able to go home to their families, makes me feel pretty good,” Scarlavai added.
For more information on SMOHIT, visit the website at smohit.org.