Several area businesses were recognized for good safety during the past year at the annual Safety Awards Banquet earlier this week. The banquet was co-sponsored by the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina Department of Labor and held at the Piggly Wiggly in Jordan Plaza.
Chamber president Gary Mac Herring was on hand to welcome the award recipients and Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry and Safety Awards coordinator Eursula Joyner, along with Connie Deuser, Safety Education specialist. Chamber executive director Janna Bass and her administrative assistant Paula Peters were also on hand for the Tuesday night event.
Berry addressed the group prior to presenting the awards. The commissioner explained that this was the 30th year for the state safety awards presentation and she had been traveling the state recently making the presentations. She also reported that over the years, beginning in 1977, the safety rate in North Carolina has declined. Under Commissioner John Brooks, from 1977 to 1993, the state rate was 7.6 percent per average 100 employees. During Harry Payne’s term, from 1994 through 2000, the rate dropped to 6.6 percent. Since Berry has been in office the rate has continued to drop to 3.8 percent.
“The state rate has nothing to do with anything I or my department has done. It is because of what you and your businesses have done to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. And I commend you all for your hard work,” asserted Berry.
She also shared that at last check the rate was at 3.1 percent. “This is proof that what we do in North Carolina by providing education and training produces a more safe environment for our workers than the federal plan states,” remarked the Labor Commissioner.
Fines in North Carolina top out at $850 for the most serious infraction while the federal plan requires a maximum fine of $3,500 for serious violations, explained Berry. “I would rather businesses take that money and invest in better education and training to provide a more safe workplace than paying it to the government.
Money paid in fines goes to the school systems in the county where the business is located.
Most of the companies recognized with awards received multiple certificates and plaques. Silver Award winners were recognized for the rate of days away from work (must be at least 50 percent below the industry average). Winners included for the first year were: Murphy-Brown, Murphy Family Ventures, Precision Tool & Stamping, Inc., Prestage Farms and Sampson Correctional Institution. Murphy-Brown and Prestage Farms were recognized for two consecutive years. Third consecutive year recipients were Murphy Family Ventures and Prestage Farms. Prestage was also recognized for sixth and seventh year silver awards.
Gold Award winners for one year of safety included J. W. Transport, Inc., Murphy-Brown, Murphy Family Ventures, Prestage Farms, Inc., S&W Ready Mix Concrete, Star Telephone Membership Corporation and the Town of Roseboro. For the second consecutive year, Gold Awards went to Murphy-Brown, Murphy Family Ventures, Nordic Cold Storage, Prestage Farms, S&W Ready Mix Concrete and Smithfield Packing Tar Heel. Schindler Elevator Corporation joined many of the previously mentioned businesses for having three consecutive years of safety. Several of the same businesses were also recognized for four and five years of safety. Prestage Farms was awarded for having six, seven, eight, nine and 10 years of consecutive safety. The N.C.l Department of Commerce, Workforce Solutions, Clinton and Kenansville offices also received 10 year consecutive safety awards.
Riverside Sand Company, Inc. was recognized for 16 consecutive years of safety. Clinton’s own Ecno Oil, Inc. was honored with a large plaque recognizing them for 40 consecutive years of safety.
For accomplishing two million hours of workplace safety, Smithfield Packing Company, Tar Heel Division, was awarded a special plaque for no safety violations from March 9, 2011 through Aug. 25, 2011.