03/04/14 — Health Department gets state award for workplace safety

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Health Department gets state award for workplace safety

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 4, 2014 1:46 PM


Cherie Berry, N.C. labor commissioner, presents the Public Sector Star safety award to Davin Madden, health director at the Wayne County Health Department.

Three years ago, the Wayne County Health Department earned the distinction of becoming the first health department in the state recognized in the Carolina Star safety program.

On Monday, Wayne County's agency became the first health department in North Carolina to have that status renewed.

"We were recommended for recertification. OSHA did the walk-through of each department and found no obvious hazards," said Leah Grimmer, safety officer for the health department.

The Carolina Star program operates in conjunction with federal OSHA, following the same guidelines for workplace safety. In fact, officials say, the star program goes beyond what OSHA requires. Companies that are in the Star program are taken off the OSHA inspection list.

The N.C. Department of Labor oversees the program and Cherie Berry, commissioner of labor, serves as president. Ms. Berry has made her own history, becoming the first female labor commissioner in the state's history. She was re-elected to a fourth term in 2012, making her the longest-serving Republican on the Council of State.

On Monday, she attended a recognition ceremony at the local Health Department.

Becoming a Star participant is an honor and demonstrates to the employees as well as the community that the recipient is a leader in safety and health, she said.

Once organizations and agencies are in the program, recertification is every three years, with an annual report submitted to the Department of Labor. The report includes the company's goals for the year, as well as a summary of the previous year's safety performance, any significant changes and an evaluation of such things as employee illness and incident rates.

There are four types of Star companies -- Carolina Star, recognizing work sites that are self-sufficient in the ability to handle hazards on the job; Rising Star, for work sites that have good health and safety programs but take additional steps; Building Star, for construction work sites and/or companies but require different approaches than other Carolina Star requirements; and the Public Sector Star, for state agencies and local governments for leadership and success in providing a safe and healthy work environment.

"We were the first health department in North Carolina to achieve Public Sector Star status," Ms. Grimmer said. "There are seven companies in Wayne County that are in the Carolina Star program -- Butterball, Mt. Olive Pickle, E.J. Pope and Son, Georgia Pacific, two of them, Balfour Beatty Rail, N.C. Department of Agriculture -- Cherry Farm, and us."