Gillings experts partner with Hope Renovations and M.T. Copeland to develop COVID-19 safety training for construction sites

January 14, 2021

Workers and employers in North Carolina’s construction industry have a new resource to quickly learn the facts about protecting themselves and their worksites from COVID-19 thanks to a new virtual training series. The series was developed by Hope Renovations and training platform M.T. Copeland in partnership with the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the N.C. Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center (NC OSHERC). This effort was made possible by a generous grant from the Carolinas Association of General Contractors Foundation, Inc (CAGC).

Hope Renovations, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, managed the creation of two instructional videos – one focused on trade workers and one targeted to management-level employees. The videos are free, mobile-friendly, include Spanish subtitles and feature Hope Renovations’ all-female team and trainees.

M.T. Copeland, one of the premier online construction training providers in the United States, provided creative direction and media production. The videos are available via M.T. Copeland’s website and the landing page includes links to additional COVID-19 safety-related resources in English and Spanish.

Dr. John Staley

Dr. John Staley

Dr. Leena Nylander-French

Dr. Leena Nylander-French

The primary content for the videos was developed by John Staley, PhD, MSEH, director of outreach and continuing education at the NC OSHERC and adjunct assistant professor of health policy and management, and Leena Nylander-French, PhD, CIH, director of the NC OSHERC and professor of environmental sciences and engineering, based on the most recent, validated, reliable COVID-19 data available.

“It was both inspiring and a sincere pleasure collaborating with Hope Renovations to provide critically needed training for the trades professions during the pandemic,” said Staley. “Partnering with a company that empowers underemployed women in these professions, as well as assists senior adults with home repair so they can stay in their homes longer, is exactly why I went into the field of Public Health.”

“Hope Renovations is thrilled to lead the effort for this timely and important service to the community of trades professionals here in North Carolina and nationwide,” said Nora El-Khouri Spencer, founder and chief executive officer of Hope Renovations. “We hope that by harnessing the powerful storytelling of M.T. Copeland and the academic excellence of UNC’s Gillings School, we can help save livelihoods and lives in our industry.”

Hope Renovations’ mission is to build futures and transform lives by preparing women for living-wage jobs in the skilled trades through hands-on, workshop-based training and on-the-job experience working alongside their all-female crew to provide repairs and renovations to older adults who desire to age in place.

“The global pandemic has completely changed how the construction industry goes to work. Building is a physical job, and tradespeople must work in close quarters with a revolving cast of team members and clients,” said Jordan Smith, M.T. Copeland’s head of education and a residential builder from Austin, T.X. “Learning how to keep our teams and clients safe in this uncertain time is incredibly important, and we are glad to make this training available to help the industry work safely.”

M.T. Copeland develops online courses for skilled trades. They seek to help people become better, smarter builders through expert education taught with real-world applications and best practices. There are eight courses readily available to purchase on foundational skills such as blueprint reading, construction math, cabinet making, and finish carpentry skills.

Staley says that the team will likely collaborate on some upcoming webinars, and future training videos may be possible pending expanded funding opportunities.


Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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