NORFOLK, Neb. – Students in the Wind Energy Technology program at Northeast Community College have an added layer of protection they can include on their toolbelt thanks to a donation from an Italian-based company whose products are used across the world.
Instructor Nathan Simpson spoke to a representative of Kask at a trade show last year and shared how students were spending as little as $17 online to purchase helmets, which is on the list of safety equipment they are required to have in the program.
“I started talking with one of the Italian representatives for Kask and he told me about the company and that they make innovative head protection in all sorts of areas,” Simpson said. “I told him how we are trying to save students some money when they purchase their tools, including head protection, and he told me that the company was interested in helping the Northeast program out.”
After another meeting, Simpson said Kask representatives told him, ‘We know how important head protection is, especially in your industry, and so we’re going to get you some Kask helmets in the hands of your students.’”
Simpson and John Liewer, wind energy technology instructor, learned that Kask was going to donate 30 helmets - 20 that are red with some accessories for freshmen students and 10 that are black with accessories to sophomore students. Red and black reflects Northeast’s branded colors.
“So now, we have a total of 30 helmets on hand for the students to use at no cost to them,” Simpson said.
“After hearing their story, we just wanted to do something to give back to the program and donate the helmets to give the students that added level of protection,” said Dominic Mangerson, north central sales specialist for Kask America. “We just want to make sure these guys are in good equipment that will protect them all around.”
Kask manufactures multiple helmets and other safety equipment that are used around the world. When the company entered the market, arborists and tower climbers were its two leading markets. Today, it’s safety division produces helmets for the construction, rescue and utility industries while its sports division makes helmets for cycling, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, and equestrian events, many of which have been worn by Olympic and Tour De France athletes among others in their competitions. The total value of the helmets is over $5,000.
Students in the Northeast program previously wore hardhats which typically offer protection when an object strikes it. Helmets usually have a graded type of foam on the inside to offer better all-around protection from top, front, side, and rear impacts.
“The majority of head injuries in industrial environments occur from slips, trips and falls, not from falling objects hitting the tops of heads,” Mangerson said. “Hardhats are not designed to protect the situations where most head injuries occur.”
Students in Northeast's Wind Energy Technology program learn the necessary safety skills and engage in higher skill levels needed to work in positions in the wind energy field. Graduates find numerous opportunities in the industry in rural Nebraska, with high demand for employment throughout the state and nation. Salaries range from $18 - $26 per hour depending on experience.
Safety is of the utmost priority for students as they are trained in the wind energy program. Simpson said proper-fitting helmets are crucial in this training.
“For example, we wear a fall harness when we do our climbing. There is a buckle in the middle of your back that we attach our fall protection to. Now in the event of a fall, that buckle would come up and slap you in the back of the head. These helmets from Kask are made to better protect against an event like that over a regular hardhat. The helmets also have additional side protection than some of the other helmets that have been used in the past.”
Simpson is very appreciative of the donation from Kask.
“I think that it’s amazing! It is an awesome gesture by Kask. It’s for the students. They’re going to get “leading edge technology’ with a mentality of being safer. Having more comfortable head protection will assist them in their work on the wind farms where they’ll be employed.”
Freshman Wind Energy Technology student Nicholas Smith, Arlington, tries on a new helmet with his fellow students in the program’s lab recently. Kask, a global manufacturer of safety helmets, has donated 30 helmets to the program.