Butte Welding equipment

BUTTE- Montana often ranks high for workplace injuries, and that's why three years ago Montana State Fund started a scholarship program to promote safety in shop classes.

Butte High School was awarded a $700 Montana State Fund scholarship for safety equipment for the school's welding classes. The school received new safety goggles, ear plugs, welding gloves and much more, all free of charge.

There are about 80 students taking welding classes at Butte High and staff says it's important to teach them proper safety procedures before they're on their own at a job site.

In 2016, Montana ranked third in the nation for the number of deaths on the job. The state also ranks high in workplace accidents.

Butte High welding instructor Denise Bordeleau said, "Montana has one of the highest accident rates in the nation, they're ranked like 35 or 37, something like that, and that's pretty bad as far as safety and accidents."

Bordeleau says with the new safety equipment they can spend more money on fixing tools and buying other equipment for students. She adds the Montana State Fund program also sent her safety tips when the school received the scholarship for the first time last year.

"What they're tying to do is build a safety culture in teens now in high school, rather than trying to build it while they've already working around people in the field and learning bad habits," Bordeleau said.

All shop teachers across the state can apply for the free equipment and teachers have to fill out the application in the spring.

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