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Oregon Training Program Sets Its Sights On Construction Workers’ Lunchboxes

Chris Lehman

Construction work can be dangerous, but a new Oregon training program aims to beef up worker safety for a part of the job that’s often overlooked: their lunchbox.

While everybody needs a healthy lunch, construction workers in particular work under demanding conditions. It’s not the kind of job where you can get through the day on just chips and soda.

A training program from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries is aimed at helping those workers make healthier choices.  “They have to be mindful of getting good nutrients and focusing on what’s going to keep their energy up but also not be just short bursts of energy, because they have to be able to sustain energy throughout the day,” said BOLI policy analyst Larry Williams.

Williams said part of the training is to help construction workers plan ahead since many job sites don’t lend themselves to heating up leftovers in a microwave or storing food in the office fridge.

The training is free, and workers can earn up to $50 if they complete an additional research study on their eating habits. Williams said just over a dozen workers have completed the study so far.

"It's probably a little touchy-feely for some of them," Williams said with a laugh. "It's a little bit of a tougher sell than some of the other things that we offer, such as help with their work boots and rain gear, which is probably more near and dear to their heart."

He said the training program is especially aimed at apprecentice workers, who are still learning the ins and outs of their trade. The idea is that by giving new workers tools for a healthier, more productive career, then more people will consider a job in the field.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”