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Labor Perspective From IUOE Local 94’s Ben Kimmel: The ‘Importance Of Ongoing Training In The Building Trades’

Published Monday, August 23, 2021
by Ben Kimmel Via
Labor Perspective From IUOE Local 94’s Ben Kimmel: The ‘Importance Of Ongoing Training In The Building Trades’ Editor’s Note: Ben Kimmel is a proud Member of International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on the, a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Educator, a Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, a Certified Professional Life Coach and a Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Kimmel can be reached at  


Although technology has advanced to improve the effectiveness of building equipment, heating, cooling and maintenance systems, there will never be a technology that can effectively replace the need for well-trained Operating Engineers.

That’s why ongoing, continuing education is so important - across all levels of the various Building Trades.

For example, the computerization of systems has changed the operations of temperature related controls.

However, without the proper training, what happens if the controls fail?

What happens if there’s an emergency and the computers go down?

For years, Operating Engineers and Building Maintenance Staff have been part of the changes in the building industry.

With their fingers on the pulse of updates and education, training has become the key to an efficient and safer work environment.

I post this as a quote from one of my first supervisors: “Anyone can push a button or switch machines on or off, but what happens in an emergency?  What happens without the proper training?  The last thing you want to be is a ‘push-button Engineer.’”

In my experience, I’ve seen untrained Workers at the so-called push-button level.

I’ve seen what happens when they find themselves in critical moments.

They panicked.

They were unsure what to do, in which case, they froze because their lack of training led them to a dangerous reaction known as cognitive tunneling - the mental state in which the brain focuses on one thing and does not see other relevant data, which can lead to greater meltdowns, property damage, injury and even fatalities.

This is why our training must be rigorous.

To counteract this tendency, training professionals recommend creating a mental model of how the systems work - meaning Skilled Workers and Skilled Trainers.

Fortunately, education and training is not lost in the Union Trades nor do these updates go unaddressed.

To avoid dangerous work environments, mottos of “Safety First” have improved at the training centers.

Our education ranges from basic to advanced with new curriculums that acknowledge the importance of a healthy mindset and psychological safety.

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