By Hailey Palmer, Puyallup Tribal News
Tribal Occupational Safety and Health (TOSH) Director Kim Turnipseed and Administrative Assistant Edmond “Skip” Laugharn have been a constant in the department since its inception seven years ago.
Created to address blurred lines between state and federal jurisdictions when it came to major injuries on the reservation, TOSH’s overall mission is to protect the rights of workers.
That all starts with education.
“We’re here to protect our people under our jurisdiction and educate,” Turnipseed said. “Education is everything. If you know what your rights are, if you know what your responsibilities are, then you know how to do your job going forward no matter what that job is.”
TOSH offers trainings that include required Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) trainings for both general industry and construction jobs. OSHA trainings are aimed at teaching workers their rights in the workplace.
“If your boss told you to go down in a 12-foot ditch with no personal protective equipment you have the right to say no,” Turnipseed said. “Anything to do with occupational safety and health, we teach in those classes.”
Basic CPR, life support, wilderness first aid and active violence emergency response classes are also offered.
“(AVERT) trains people and gives them the best tools to survive an active violence event,” Turnipseed explained.
Initially the only trainer on staff, TOSH’s trainings were limited to just OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 classes, which was what Turnipseed was certified in until 2020.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Turnipseed was temporarily furloughed and decided to get certified in CPR, first aid, AVERT and wilderness first aid training, expanding the number of people TOSH has been able to educate.
“We had to basically beg people to join the classes, and now I have to turn people away because we have a maximum student capacity,” she said.
The lessons and skills taught in the trainings have already been put to the test. Back in May 2023, someone was overdosing by the Housing and Children Services building when Tribal employees were walking by.
Because of the training they had taken with Turnipseed, they were able to save the person’s life, Turnipseed said.
“The training provides people with the confidence so they don’t freak out in those situations,” she said.
Upcoming trainings for first aid/CPR/AED are scheduled for Feb. 22 and March 21. All classes are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are located in the Incubator Building at 1423 E. 29th St. Ste. 231.
TOSH can be reached at TOSH@PuyallupTribe-nsn.gov or TOSHReports@PuyallupTribe-nsn.gov. Full contact info for Turnipseed and Laugharn, along with registration forms for upcoming trainings, can be found at www.puyalluptribe-nsn.gov/tribal-occupational-safety-and-health-tosh/.