Northern Illinois University to offer free safety training

NIU is offering free OSHA-compliant training to support workers.

By U2B Staff 

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Northern Illinois University (NUI) through the NIU Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) is offering free machine safety training classes to support workers.

The free safety classes by NIU is possible thanks to a $116,644 Susan Harwood Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The free machine guarding courses are between two- and six-hours long and cover various types of machinery that are common in manufacturing and food processing plants.

John Newquist, an occupational safety, and health instructor with NIU’s CPE said that this course, offered through NIU’s Continuing and Professional Education Unit (CPE) is designed to prevent workplace accidents, such as amputations from occurring.

Newquist worked for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the U.S. Department of Labor for 29 years before coming to NIU CPE and its National Safety Education Center (NSEC).


This free programme helps workers identify hazards associated with the different machines and provides guidance on how to install and use safeguards to prevent injuries in compliance with OSHA regulations.

One of the highlights of the machine guarding courses offered by NIU is its state-of-the-art CPE classrooms. The classrooms are equipped with real machines that offer hands-on experience to participants.

The classes have also been adapted to accommodate restrictions caused by the pandemic, offering participants the same learning through a fully online virtual format.

Newquist said, “The machine guarding standards from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been out for about fifty years, but we’re still seeing probably 5,000 amputations a year in the U.S., while Illinois averages about 500 a year,”

He added, “So we want to show people how these injuries happen, how you can guard the machinery, where you can buy the materials to do it (including examples such as light curtains and pull cords) and how you can protect the employee.”

The funding by the U.S. Department of Labor will allow Newquist and other instructors are able to offer machine guarding courses for free to workers who otherwise would not have access to OSHA-certified safety training.

Director of CPE at NIU’s Pettee Guerrero said, “Now more than ever, it is imperative that NIU and CPE be a true partner for small businesses in our region. This grant provides us a huge opportunity to do that. We will be reaching out to small businesses in the region to extend this training to their employees, and I encourage them to contact us if they are in need.”