Printing industry training centers on safety-and sorting through hundreds of pages of OSHA regulations.

In a time where the recent recession has created a new economy, it is good to know that a relatively inexpensive program for safety training developed specifically for the printing industry continues to gain strength and support.

Now in its 11th year of existence, the PrintGuard® Safety Train-The-Trainer program offered by the Printing & Imaging Association (PIA) of MidAmerica has added significance when taking into consideration recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) actions that could prove expensive to any print operation.

As the sole corporate sponsor of PrintGuard Safety Train-the-Trainer courses, INX Int’l Ink Co. has been involved since day one. In 1996, the late Gary Reniker, who at the time was safety director for INX Int’l, met with Jim Oldebeken, the current executive director of PIA MidAmerica. Oldebeken had just seen the results of his group’s survey indicating they needed help to meet OSHA compliance requirements.

“In reviewing the OSHA rules, we learned everyone would need to know about 1,500 pages worth of information,” recalled Oldebeken. “Most of our members do not have the time or expertise and realized there was a gap that needed to be filled. Gary knew the regulations to focus on, and went to work on providing the industry with this knowledge.”

After doing their homework, the pair applied for and was awarded a Susan Harwood training grant from OSHA. Charles Adkins, OSHA regional administrator of Region 7 in Kansas City, Mo., reviewed Reniker’s work and made recommendations that Oldebeken implemented. Since 1999, more than 1,400 companies have sent more than 2,600 representatives to various Train-The-Trainer events throughout the U.S.

Today’s PrintGuard class consists of 10 hours of classroom instruction that was originally developed in partnership with OSHA. Oldebeken says it is a perfect situation for people with safety management as part of their job responsibilities, but who are not safety professionals. The average class size is 15 to 20. Attendees learn how to create safer workplaces for employees and to prevent serious injuries and illnesses. Oldebeken says the recent hiring of several hundred new inspectors by OSHA is a message that can’t be ignored.

Course costs less than $100

“More than 70% of OSHA inspections are unannounced, and the average fine is $2,300. Penalties of up to $70,000 may be imposed for each willful violation,” Oldebeken says. “A record of the violation is also listed in the OSHA database, thus increasing the likelihood of a re-inspection of that facility. The OSHA code of federal regulations comprises 40 books, so in our class top management can learn about specific OSHA requirements and thereby determine their level of compliance. Taking into consideration our course costs less than $100, that’s why so many people continue to take advantage and support it.”

Brian Rutherford, nationally recognized for his 24 years of experience with safety knowledge and OSHA compliance issues, handles the course instruction. Through PrintGuard, he has personally taught safety and OSHA compliance to more printing employees than any other person. He mixes industry knowledge with lively presentations, and supplies anecdotal information on successes and failures in safety. Attendance for both days of the course, usually a full day followed by a half-day session, is required to earn the OSHA completion card.

“Brian and Gary knew each other from their days with the Air Force reserve. They also worked together on a variety of safety-related programs,” says Oldebeken, indicating that PIA MidAmerica presents an annual award, the Gary R. Reniker Environmental Health & Safety Professional of the Year, as a way to remember a true industry pioneer.

“PrintGuard was developed in Kansas City and now has a national impact in preventing injuries, illnesses and deaths in the printing industry. It is one of our greatest accomplishments as a trade association,” Oldebeken says. “PrintGuard would not have happened without Gary’s and INX’s involvement in developing the course and sustaining it for 11 years as a corporate sponsor. They truly do more than sell ink by continually demonstrating a commitment to the safety and health of the 900,000 employees of the U.S. printing industry.”

PrintGuard classes this year have already taken place in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Chicago, and, most recently, in July at PIA MidAmerica headquarters in Dallas. Upcoming classes are scheduled for Nashville, Tenn., on Sept. 29-30, and another class in Dallas has been rescheduled for Oct. 14-15. Oldebeken predicts there will be another class available on the West Coast before the end of the year. For more information call 800-788-2040, or visit and click on Events.

Printing Industries of America honors trainers, educators

In August, Printing Industries of America ( named the 2010 Education Awards of Excellence academic and industry recipients: Dennis Dougherty and Katherine Gekker, respectively. The awards are presented annually to an academic representative and an industry representative in recognition of outstanding contributions to education and training in the graphic arts.

Dougherty is a professor in the Graphic Communications and Printing Technology program at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Pa., where he uses his 25 years of teaching experience and 10 years of industry experience to inspire and motivate his students. He has been recognized in the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers: Honoring Our Nation’s Most Respected Teachers, an award based on nominations from student recipients of the Who’s Who Among America’s Students.

Katherine Gekker is the director of the Ambassador for Print & Graphics program launched in 2007 by the Virginia Printing Foundation. The Ambassador for Print & Graphics program was designed by Gekker and aims to align education, workforce, industry, and economic growth strategies statewide so that more students take advantage and participate in the opportunities afforded by careers in the printing industry.