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Boilermakers boost EPRI certification across the US

Offering testing for this certification saves contractors and owners money so our members can get right in there and start working.

Mark Wertz, Boilermaker National Apprenticeship Coordinator

EPRI testing at Local 13 in Philadelphia

Boilermakers are ramping up EPRI training and testing for advanced rigging at various sites across the United States, making the union even more attractive to contractors and owners in the construction sector. EPRI, the Electric Research Power Institute, conducts research, development, and demonstration projects across the United States. EPRI is an independent, nonprofit focused on research in electricity generation, delivery, and use.  

According Mark Wertz, Boilermaker National Apprenticeship Program coordinator, EPRI accredited the Boilermakers union to perform evaluations four years ago, after a lengthy approval process. Now the union can approve various local lodge testing sites throughout the U.S. if they meet EPRI requirements. Local 108 (Birmingham, Alabama) was the first evaluation site within the union.

“We cover all areas in the county,” Wertz said. “Most areas now have more than one training center.”

More and more contractors and owners are requesting—and in some cases, such as nuclear, requiring—EPRI certifications on the jobsite, according to Wertz.

The qualification consists of a written exam and hands-on testing performed at a certified EPRI rigging structure. Boilermakers have 17 approved structures throughout the U.S., and 80 certified evaluators within the union, with more on deck for certification.

Locals or training centers that have a certified EPRI structure for training also need a certified instructor to teach the advanced rigging module. That’s where Wertz comes in. He travels to locals to certify trainers.

“Offering testing for this certification saves contractors and owners money so our members can get right in there and start working,” Wertz said. “It makes our contractors more aggressive to get work and gain work. EPRI has a goal to expand this kind of training and testing to the refinery side and also within the coal industry.”

Local 28 (Newark, New Jersey) began to offer the training and certification so Boilermakers could work in nuclear. BM-ST Jim Chew said with the decommissioning the Oyster Creek Generating Station in New Jersey, the facility required EPRI certification before members could work.

Brian Murphy, L-28 business agent, earned his EPRI certification two years ago. This year, he worked with Wertz, who “trains the trainers” to certify as a trainer and test proctor.

Murphy agreed EPRI certification makes Boilermakers more attractive to owners and contractors and helps the union get more work. He pointed to a recent job at the Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Salem County, New Jersey. L-28 certified members before sending them out, which saved Hope Creek time and money it would otherwise have needed to provide a three-day training.

“We trained [members] to help keep the costs down,” he said. “We saved the industry money in hopes to help keep it viable.”

Murphy also said certification adds an important layer of trust.  “That contractors, owners and facilities, especially in nuclear, see you come in with a card and know that you’re trained is a great thing. It’s a level of trust. It puts icing on the cake.”

Interested in receiving an EPRI certification or bringing EPRI to your local lodge? Find out more at www.bnap.com/copy-of-epri.