From left Beth Lewis, COM president; Cindy Lewis, director of the Gulf Coast Safety Institute; Sealice Hemphill, program assistant at the Gulf Coast Safety Institute; and Jeremy Hanson, of Texas Mutual Insurance.

Continuing a 15-year partnership, Texas Mutual Insurance Co., the state’s leading worker’s compensation insurance company, has given $100,000 to fund free safety and health classes taught by experts at the Gulf Coast Safety Institute.

“Our mission is to insure and to prevent and mitigate injuries,” said Jeremy Hanson, of Texas Mutual Insurance. “Texas Mutual has been a proud supporter of the Gulf Coast Safety Institute.”

Since the risk management classes’ inception, total enrollment has been over 24,000. The institute attracts safety experts employed at NASA, in the petrochemical industry and in local businesses.
“To combine free safety training with quality training is key,” said Gulf Coast Safety Institute Director Cindy Lewis.
Rolando Valdez, a consultant and former safety specialist in the petrochemical industry, has taken classes since 2008.
“Classes are free. I’ve been a student at several colleges, and never had a class for free, books for free; even breakfast is free,” said Valdez. “It’s helped me to update my resume and (become recertified in) four or five safety certifications.”
Constantly updating training to keep paces with changes in industry, the institute recently hosted classes on OSHA recordkeeping and explaining new OSHA regulations.
“We try to make classes less lecture and more hands-on,” said Lewis. “With the recordkeeping class, students learned through recordkeeping scenarios.”
Reese Squires works for DB Consulting at Johnson Space Center and she and her co-workers have attended classes to supplement company training.
“It’s not just this community that benefits from it. We have people come from Louisiana,” said Squires. “Another benefit is networking. We have people with all levels of experience. People have found jobs based on relationships formed here.”