Ottawas Red Cross Keeps Businesses Safe

    HOLLAND — They do a lot already. Yet Stacy Peerbolt knows the Ottawa County Chapter of the American Red Cross could help an untold number of additional businesses keep their workplaces safe and meet federal regulations.

    The Ottawa County Red Cross last year provided 150 courses, many of them to businesses, on workplace safety issues ranging from administering CPR and First Aid, to ergonomics and wellness training, to how to prevent slips and falls on the job and handling workplace violence.

    Peerbolt, the chapter’s director of safety and health services, wants to see more businesses take advantage of the low-cost training courses. Though the number of businesses calling for information has increased, she sees awareness as a problem to overcome.

    “Of all the businesses in Ottawa County, we could be doing a lot more,” Peerbolt said. “There are plenty of businesses out there that don’t know we exist.”

    The predominant number of workplace safety courses conducted by the Ottawa County Red Cross — as well as chapters elsewhere — are in CPR and First Aid. Businesses generally arrange First Aid courses in order to meet Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements, Peerbolt said. The chapter began offering the workplace training courses to businesses, as well as to nonprofit and community organizations, in 2000.

    OSHA requires employers to have at least one person on each work shift certified in First Aid. That individual, who must achieve re-certification every three years, may then provide the training to others workers who wish to receive it.

    The courses are typically offered at the workplace and are structured to meet the specific needs of the workplace environment. That includes tweaking schedules so as not to interfere with carefully planned production schedules.

    The CPR course, for example, was recently altered to run 5.5 hours, rather than the 6.75 hours it took in the past, so participating employees would spend less time off the job.

    “It’s more training in less time. Less time means people are more productive at the workplace,” Peerbolt said. 

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