April 17, 2009 Volume 110 Number 8

Unionized businesses get kudos at Oregon safety forum

Thirteen leaders in safety and health — many with union ties — were spotlighted March 11 at the Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) Conference.

A panel of industry professionals judges the awards, which honor extraordinary contributions to the field of workplace safety and health. The categories include outstanding safety committees, employers, and individuals.

Among the award recipients was the NECA-IBEW Local 48 Joint Safety Committee. The safety committee — made up of 16 members representing both the labor and management side of the electrical industry — has offered training programs including a safety “boot camp” for new apprentices. Safety talk topics are distributed to the 100-plus signatory contractors, along with turn-key programs to better address asbestos exposure, vehicle safety, the handling of mercury and PCBs and other hazardous materials.

Each contractor integrates the information into their own safety programs.

Safety committees from MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn and Roseburg Forest Products in Dillard also received awards.

Although not mentioned at the awards luncheon, MacLaren employees are members of Service Employees International Union, the Oregon School Employees Association, and the Oregon Education Association, while Roseburg Forest Product employees are represented by Carpenters Industrial Council Local 2949.

The MacLaren safety committee coordinates on-site safety fairs, holds safety training, and conducts emergency drills with local fire officials.

At Roseburg FP, the 32-member safety committee uses recognition programs and barbecues as ways to honor achieved safety goals and to stay on top of safety issues.

Three signatory union contractors also received awards: Arctic Sheet Metal, whose employees are members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 16; Reese Electric of North Bend, whose work crew are members of IBEW Local 932; and Portland general contractor Stacy and Witbeck, which is signatory with several construction unions.

Stacy and Witbeck awards “safety bucks” to employees for safe behavior observed on its projects, which include the Wilsonville-Beaverton commuter rail project for TriMet. It also holds regular barbecues and weekly all-hands safety meetings.

At Arctic Sheet Metal, 98 percent of the 110-person workforce has had advanced training in safety and health, CPR and first aid.

Reese Electric holds an annual banquet to recognize safety achievements and conducts mandatory safety meetings each month.

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