Sole Education Spring 2020: Meet the Student

Sole Education Spring 2020 Meet the Student

We are thrilled to launch our third semester of the  Sole Education program! Over the next few months, we will be learning more about our student’s skilled trades program through their blog entries.

The Sole Education Grant is an industry-based education grant sponsored by Saf-Gard Safety Shoe Company. It is for students who are just starting out in the trades.

Over the next several weeks, we will be working with Tod, an  HVAC-R student from Runnels, Iowa.

He will be covering topics related to his industry and hopefully inspiring others to learn more about opportunities in the skilled trades as well.

Let’s meet Tod:

Sole Edu Spring 2020 - Tod Thompson - HVAC-R
Here is a picture of me working on building an 8 X10 supply air duct in HVAC-R in class this week.

Hi! I’m Tod and I grew up and still live in the Midwest. I am a husband, dad, grandfather, and brother. All of which are great roles to fill. Over my career, I have been employed by independent businesses, large corporations, private companies, and I am currently self-employed. A little over three years ago I started my own small business. Regardless of who signed my paycheck over the years, one constant key has always been present in my success, and that is “building positive relationships with my customers”.

I am currently enrolled in the  HVAC-R vocation training program at our local community college in Ankeny, Iowa. I really enjoy what I have been learning during my courses so far. There are eighteen active students in my class, and we are in our second semester. As a group, we have learned to work with and around each other the same as employees at a shop every day. Usually, we form different teams of two to four students during the lab, so we all work with everyone at some point or another. I’m lucky to have two excellent instructors that keep our group on track together to accomplish our daily objectives. I work my business tasks each afternoon after my classes are out at 12:05 PM, and I try to keep up with the bookwork and other office activities on the weekends. It’s a lot to balance, but you feel different when you’re building something that’s your very own business, somehow it just doesn’t feel like work.

The courses I’m taking now will help me service my existing customers in more ways and help me expand my opportunities for sales growth. I believe that hard work pays rewards, that family should always come first, that it’s ok to make mistakes, that bosses who develop your skills are genius, that you can change your life if you want to, and that nothing can take the place of persistence.

Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.


Staying Safe in an Electric Environment

It’s getting electric in here.

Actually though, electricity is everywhere. It’s in our homes, at work, in the sky, underground; and it’s not very fun when it shocks us. Many people working in the trade industry work with electricity on a daily basis, and it’s important to know how to be safe around it. Electrical hazards can cause shocks, burns, and even workplace fires if the hazard is too large.

So let’s simmer things down in here and learn how to be safe in a “lit” environment.

How does electricity actually work?

We know that science might not be your forte, but bare with us for a second…

Electricity flows through conductors, and these are surfaces that offer very little resistance to the flow of electricity (such as metals). Insulators stop the flow of electricity, and these can be surfaces like glass, plastic, clay, dry wood, etc. However, water can turn these insulators into conductors very quickly. You know the dry wood that you’re using to cover up some wires? Well, it just rained and now it’s a giant lightning rod. Zap.

The shocking facts

Electricity travels in closed circuits, typically through conductors. However, when you decide to come into contact with one of these conductors, then congratulations! Your own body is now a conductor, and you’re being shocked.

What happens when this electricity jolts through your body? If it’s a small amount of electricity, you’ll only feel a slight, albeit annoying, shock. If the amount increases, your muscles will contract and your body will “freeze” due to the shock. If the electricity levels rise above this, you’re flirting with heart failure and death. So let’s not try that.

Staying safe

According to OSHA, most electrical accidents result from either unsafe equipment, an unsafe work environment, or unsafe work practices. The best ways to prevent electrical injuries is through the use of insulation, guarding, grounding, circuit protection devices, and safe work practices.

Insulators, like we mentioned earlier, are materials used to coat metals and other conductors to stop them from, well, conducting. Insulation on conductors is often color coded as well.

Guarding involves enclosing or hiding electric equipment to ensure that people don’t accidentally come into contact with it. If you’re using electric equipment with exposed parts that could be dangerous, hide this equipment away in a separate room or vault and place adequate warning signs around it. Only qualified professionals should have access to this hidden area.

Grounding means intentionally creating a low-resistance path that connects the tool or electrical system to the earth. This prevents a buildup of voltages, but doesn’t completely remove the risk of electric shock. Grounding should be combined with other methods that we’ve mentioned.

Circuit protection devices limit or stop the flow of an electric current automatically in a necessary situation like a short circuit or overload of a system. Examples of these devices are fuses and circuit breakers. Essentially, these are your best friends in a highly electric environment.

While all of the methods that we’ve mentioned will help with electrical hazards, the best way to prevent electrical accidents is through safe work practices. De-energize all electric equipment before inspections or repairs, keep all electric tools properly maintained, exercise caution when working near electric lines, and always wear appropriate protective equipment.

Looking for some safety shoes that reduce the risk of electric hazards? Feel free to check us out at