Contracting companies, union business managers, local presidents and trainers are among the recipients of the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust’s 2015 safety awards.

Just because a job is dangerous doesn’t mean it can’t be done safely, according to officials with the union-affiliated group. And its 2015 award recipients demonstrate that point, with a commitment to ensuring work is done without injuries, they add.

“This year’s safety awards event is special because it ties into the first SMOHIT Safety Champions Conference,” said institute administrator Randy Krocka.

The inaugural event took place Sept. 13, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

“In years past, I’ve had to mail out almost all of the awards, but this year, because we hosted the awards ceremony in conjunction with the conference, I get to see these recipients, shake their hands and say ‘thank you’ for helping to keep the membership safe,” Krocka said.

The winners were: Superior Air Handling, David Zimmermann from Sheet Metal Workers union Local 36 in St. Louis; Pete Stafford at the Center for Construction Research and Training; Vince Alvarado from Local 49 in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Lance Fout from Local 435 in Jacksonville, Florida; Milo Chaffee of Local 100 in Cumberland, Maryland; Brian Handzlik of Local 71 in Buffalo, New York; Brian Hill and Local 273’s Labor Management Cooperative Committee in Ventura County, California; and Greg Prohaska, lead instructor at Sheet Metal Workers Local 33’s training center near Cleveland.

Zimmerman and Local 36 were honored for their successful efforts to get more members to take part in health screening events. The secret? Holding the event at the St. Louis Zoo.

“The family setting gets everybody there,” Zimmermann said. “It’s definitely a better draw than trying to do it at our own facility because there is plenty for the kids to do. We could have the sharpest building around, but this offers the most for the whole family.”

In its first year at the zoo, 500 to 600 members attended. In 2015, more than 1,600 were expected to attend.

“We’re always out front informing our members about (health screenings)

,” Zimmermann said. “There are one or two people every year who have to go see the doctor the next morning because of the screenings we provide. It’s very rewarding. We are very proud of what we do for our members. I’ve been blessed to have administrators like Buffi Gass as well as the staff that I do. They do all the work.”

For Utah-based sheet metal works contractor Superior Air Handling Corp., ensuring safety meant hiring Jim Walton, a certified safety and health technologist as its safety manager.

The HVAC construction contractor won the award for its work at the Mox fuel fabrication facility in Aiken, South Carolina.

Superior requires everyone from apprentices to journeymen go through a 90-day safety mentorship and every step of a project is evaluated for safety. Everyone is empowered to call a “time out” if they see a potential hazard.

 “It’s our job as safety professionals on the Mox project to think ahead and identify issues before they happen,” Walton said. “Trying to stay ahead of the curve is no easy task. It is a team effort by everyone. It’s all about being proactive.”