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The Lincolnton Street & Solid Waste and Distribution & Collection Departments have achieved recognition as OSHA Public Sector SHARP employers by the NC Department of Labor. The SHARP (Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program) designation is awarded to Public Sector employers who are successful in protecting employees from injury and illness by implementing comprehensive and effective safety and health programs. The program is designed to reduce operating costs, while increasing quality and productivity.
NC Department of Labor Commission Cherie Berry personally awarded the certificates and workplace banners to City of Lincolnton department directors Steve Peeler, Robert Pearson and their dedicated employees at the May 3 city council meeting. The City worked with consultant Debbie Rogers-Lowery to achieve this elite distinction. Ms. Rogers-Lowery commented, “This recognition is well-earned for both departments. The three staff members of the Lincolnton Streets & Solid Waste department at the presentation have more than 100 years of expertise between them, which is a testament to the kind of workplace the City of Lincolnton is – once here, employees don’t want to leave.”
The Lincolnton Street & Solid Waste and Distribution & Collection departments are part of a small handful in the state to achieve this recognition representing two out of only 43 public sector employers currently recognized. The Streets & Solid Waste departments is recognized in the Public Works category with its first certification. Achieving its recertification, the Water Distribution & Collection department is recognized in the Public Utilities division. Certification means a two year exemption from routine OSHA compliance inspections through March 27, 2020.
The SHARP program works with NC employers, especially those with employees engaged in hazardous activities, to achieve safe and healthful workplace for their employees. Employers opt in to the program which provides free professional safety and health mentoring leading to lower workers’ compensation costs and reduced OSHA compliance inspections. The SHARP Public Sector program categories are school maintenance, public works, sheriff/ police, public utilities, fire/EMS, and parks & recreation.
After applying, the process starts with a site visit from an experienced professional safety and industrial consultant to identify safety and health hazards, supply recommendations to reduce or eliminate these hazards, and assessment of the overall safety and health management program. This assessment includes a walk-through of all facilities to identify safety and/or health hazards along with employee meetings to evaluate work practices and conduct health surveys.
Health surveys concentrate on issues such as exposure to air contaminants, ventilation, noise measurements and controls, hazardous chemicals, ergonomics, respirators, bloodborne pathogens, and hazard communication. Safety surveys address such issues as walking/working surfaces, machine guarding, electrical hazards, fire protection, means of egress, mechanical equipment, protective equipment, power tools, housekeeping, and sanitation.
Once the evaluation is completed, a written report is provided that includes findings and recommendations. When hazards are identified, deadlines for corrections are agreed upon. All corrections must be completed before reinspection and certification.
Steve Zickefoose, city manager, stated, “Along with all our employees, I congratulate both departments for this honor. These are hard-working folks and their commitment to a safe and healthy working environment helps us reduce costs and improve services for citizens. Thank you for your dedication.”
Receiving state-wide SHARP safety recognition from NC Department of Labor Commissioner are City of Lincolnton employees from the Streets & Solid Waste and Water Distribution & Collection departments. Pictured L to R are: NCDOL Commissioner Cherie Berry, Steve Littlejohn (Solid Waste), Taylor Braun (D&C), Roger Hilton (Streets), Aaron Upton (D&C), Joe Metts (Streets) and Debbie Rogers-Lowery of Compliance Training Associates.