OSHA training

The Black Rock desert is a difficult place to build things, especially the giant and unusual structures that are so much a part of the event. Keeping everybody safe as the work goes on is serious business. And so, about 50 DPW workers got OSHA training this week, as the Burning Man organization kept up with state and federal requirements to keep the job sites safe.

The training was quite a contrast from the fence build and the other very hard labor going on. One day you’re pounding stakes into the ground, the next you’re sitting at a table watching a slideshow in the back of Bruno’s restaurant.

And it’s not a simple thing. The training took place over two days, and each of the sessions was five hours long. Pretty much everyone who is involved with construction has to be certified that they’ve taken the training, and if you didn’t get to do it at Bruno’s, you have to take a course online, but that would take 30 hours to complete. Yow.

So the DPW folks sat in the room and watched the OSHA slideshow and asked a lot of questions. (OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, by the way.) They heard what the organization’s responsibilities are, they heard about what they can do if they think something isn’t being handled correctly, and they got an overview of standards and practices in construction and electrical and heavy equipment.

The reaction to the training was pretty good. The audience was engaged. There were lots of good questions.  As Peaches said later, “There were some kernels of common sense, and some things I didn’t know. … Common sense is dying off among the general population. You don’t learn about life from YouTube.”

About the author: John Curley

John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.

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