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Your Environment. Your Health.

OAI, Inc.

WETP Cooperative Agreement Awardee

Principal Investigator / Institution

Tipawan Reed
Tel (312) 528-3504
Fax (312) 528-3501
OAI, Inc.
180 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 400
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Program Contact

Alexander Prentzas
Director (HWWT)
Tel (312) 528-3529
Fax (312) 528-3501
OAI, Inc.
180 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 400
Chicago, Illinois 60601
J. William McVey
Director (MWT)
Tel (312) 528-3523
Fax (312) 528-3501
OAI, Inc.
180 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 400
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Target Training Populations

OAI logo

OAI's Hazardous Waste Worker Training (HWWT) program targets: firefighters from the Chicago Fire Department; first responders nationwide; law enforcement and first receivers from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Indiana, and Minnesota; construction and debris removal workers in Louisiana and the surrounding Gulf area; disadvantaged construction, manufacturing and green collar workers from the Chicagoland area.


The Minority Worker Training (MWT) program serves historically disadvantaged residents of Chicago, Dallas and Wyandotte County, KS/Eastern Jackson County, MO, who live in environmentally degraded surroundings, such as Empowerment Zones, Brownfields Showcase communities and designated Environmental Justice (EJ) neighborhoods. The target population is comprised of unemployed or under-employed individuals faced with multiple barriers to employment.

Program Description

The OAI Worker Education and Training Program (WETP) Consortium, headquartered in Chicago, has been operating two training components since 1995—Hazardous Waste Worker Training (HWWT) and Minority Worker Training (MWT). Consistent with the NIEHS vision of identification and prevention of hazardous exposures, the aim of the OAI WETP is to reduce risk and prevent work-related harm by training workers on how to best protect themselves, their communities and the environment.


The overall goal of the HWWT program is to provide model occupational safety and health training for workers who are, or may be, exposed to hazardous material on the job or who are engaged in activities related to hazardous waste removal, containment, or chemical emergency response.


OAI HWWT Consortium partners include: OAI as lead applicant, Chicago, IL; Emery Associates, Vernon Hills, IL; Chicago Fire Department, Chicago, IL; HazMatIQ, Fairfax, VA; Commonwealth of Kentucky Division of Fire Prevention and State Police, Louisville, KY; Thomas O. Murdock, PhD, Minneapolis Minnesota; Mendez Environmental, Kenner, LA; and a cadre of approximately 60 regional and local trainers in FL, IL, IN, KY, MN and VA.


Applying best practices learned from its collective experience since 1995, the Consortium aims to:


  1. Continue to deliver quality training to existing first responders and hazardous waste workers in the Midwest and other regions.
  2. Address the resurgence of clandestine methamphetamine labs in Indiana and Kentucky.
  3. Adapt health and safety training in response to the emerging "greening" of traditional construction jobs, specifically related to energy conservation, alternative energy, building retrofits, and deconstruction.
  4. Foster cooperation among Consortium members and other NIEHS awardees by building capacity and leveraging resources.
  5. Continue to build sustainable local training capacity while enhancing the Train-the-Trainer curricula with innovative training designs consistent with the Social Ecological Model and integrating resource conservation via experiential learning models.
  6. Refine and expand the evaluation process to assess the effectiveness of innovative instructional features and capture the impact of training beyond the classroom/worksite.


The overall goal of the MWT Consortium is to foster both economic improvement and environmental awareness and stewardship in individual participants as well as in the community by providing sustainable employment. The program is designed to improve basic academic skills, life skills, safety and health awareness, and provide occupational skills training in environmental remediation, construction, and green industries. The program gives participants an opportunity to engage in lifelong learning and prepare for career track positions, apprenticeship and entrepreneurship in the field.


MWT Consortium members include: OAI, Inc. as lead applicant, Chicago, IL; Era Environmental Safety, Inc. (Era) and Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC), Wyandotte County, KS/Eastern Jackson County, MO; and CitySquare, Dallas, TX, formerly Dallas Ministries.


Annually, the three MWT programs collectively enroll about 85 eligible men and women and deliver from 240-486 contact training hours per participant, depending on the training site and employer needs/requirements. Additionally, the OAI MWT Consortium strives to:

  1. Continue to focus on recruiting underrepresented individuals from communities suffering from high unemployment, poverty, insufficient education, unhealthy living conditions, and disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards.
  2. Continue to provide core curriculum of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) courses that serves as a solid foundation for all other technical training.
  3. Continue to actively research other green economy/green jobs initiatives and develop/implement appropriate training modules to prepare trainees for emerging green jobs.
  4. Continue to provide "Environmental Literacy" training, which informs and enlightens trainees regarding the broader implications of environmental issues as they affect their homes, families, and communities and the need for their active stewardship of the environment in their communities.
  5. Increase the scope of both internal and third-party evaluation for continuous program improvement and to evaluate new training components (i.e., new green jobs modules and the effect of environmental literacy/stewardship training).
  6. Continue to focus on integrating reading, math and other academic and life skills training modules with technical training. Maintain and increase emphasis on incorporating adult education techniques into technical training.
  7. Work with Consortium Partners to continue building their capacity to deliver high quality health and safety training.

Project Duration

  • August 1, 2010 - July 31, 2015

Grant Numbers

  • U45ES07850

Other Participating Organizations

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