‘Your brother’s keeper’: Companies recognized for safety practicesPublished 12:11am Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Greg Rowe started Tuesday’s PotashCorp-Aurora luncheon by announcing where everyone should meet if the Aurora Community Center should catch fire before the end of the meal. His announcement was just another example of the company’s focus on safety and the reason PotashCorp was recertified as a Carolina Star company.
“This is part of our safety culture,” Rowe said.
The Carolina Star Program recognizes effective safety and health practices at North Carolina companies.
Cherie Berry, commissioner of the N.C. Department of Labor, presented the safety awards to PotashCorp and Envirovac, an on-site contractor at PotashCorp. Envirovac was awarded Carolina Star certification and PotashCorp received its fifth recertification since receiving its original Carolina Star certification in 1999.
Berry also recognized the Roberts Company as a Rising Star.
“We don’t just hand them to anybody. You have to earn them,” Berry said after the presentation.
Steve Beckel, general manager of PotashCorp-Aurora, said the re-certification took a lot of work.
“We all know safety is hard work. It’s making the right choices,” he said. “It’s about making sure that everybody that works at our plant site takes safety seriously.”
Rowe said employees are empowered to bring work to a halt if they see an unsafe practice.
“Another thing that we do… we don’t just look at PotashCorp employees, we look at everyone in the facility. We’re concerned with the safety of contractors and vendors,” Rowe said.
To that end, PotashCorp partnered with Envirovac to improve safety. The efforts led to Envirovac’s distinction as a Carolina Star. It also created an environment that encouraged employees to work together on safety issues. Rowe said a few employees thought outside the box and came up with a way for Envirovac employees to clean tanks without having to enter them.
Envirovac employs 45 people in companies in the area, 70 in the state. Kevin Jackson, owner and CEO of Envirovac, said his employees have one of the most dangerous jobs there is. They clean up hazardous waste and use pressure washers set at 20,000 to 40,000 psi.
“If 40,000 psi water hit you, it would cut you in two,” he said.
Jackson said the safety measures his company has adopted since working with PotashCorp would save lives.
“They’ve made us a lot better on inspection and training procedures,” Jackson said. “Their motto is ‘be your brother’s keeper’ and they’ve shared so much.”