UW-Platteville launches new partnership in construction safety training for WisDOT

Faculty in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Construction Safety Management program have been working on a partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for the last two years to provide construction safety training for WisDOT staff in all regional offices – Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Rhinelander, Superior, Waukesha and Wisconsin Rapids.

Gretchen Bockenhauer, program coordinator and assistant professor of construction management, said UW-Platteville’s Construction Safety Management program is unique in that it is one of the few across the country that focuses on construction safety. She said that industry partners and alumni recommended the WisDOT partner with UW-Platteville because the university has so many resources.

“We are proud to collaborate with UW-Platteville to provide these safety trainings,” said David Esse, director of the WisDOT Division of Transportation System Development Office of Workforce, Innovation and Budget. “The university is an OSHA Mid-America Certified training site, and we know the instructors are highly recommended by industry partners. During the training, we quickly learned these instructors are very passionate about their work.”

Bockenhauer said that because UW-Platteville already offers the Highway Technician Certification Program, in cooperation with the WisDOT, the construction safety training pairs well. 

“We’re already doing this with them at a UW-Platteville level, and now we’re providing all their construction safety training at another level,” said Bockenhauer.

Training includes a three-hour presentation, which covers a variety of construction topics in safety, hazards and more. After participants complete training, they receive a hard hat sticker to display. The sticker has a UW-Platteville logo on it to reflect the partnership. More than 800 WisDOT employees – roughly 70% of the division – have received construction safety training through UW-Platteville.

“We have a strong culture of safety within our department, and it was wonderful to see so many of our staff jump at the opportunity to take this hands-on training,” said Esse. “Increasing focus on safety will always create positive returns for us on job sites.”

Survey results showed 95% of respondents recommend the training to others. 

“The training had something for everyone, no matter how long they’ve worked at WisDOT or how many other trainings they had completed in the past,” said Esse. “It’s extremely important to all of us, no matter what we are doing on either side of the construction barrels. Safety is paramount to all we do on the road, in the field or in the office.”

Bockenhauer hopes to grow this partnership in the future and says that so far it is very promising.