Sampson County businesses were awarded for their focus on safety during a Safety Awards banquet held by the NC Department of Labor Tuesday evening. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry presented the awards during the event, touting award recipients for a job well done.
The awards are for companies that have made “outstanding on-the-job safety achievements.” Businesses in Clinton, as well as Roseboro, were presented awards, as well as other businesses in the area that have satellite locations here. Among the top recipients were Murphy Family Ventures and Prestage Farms.
Ecno Oil, Inc. was also recognized for 42 years as a Gold Award recipient.
Companies were awarded based on a list of criteria which included how long they have been in compliance.
The banquet was co-sponsored by the Department of Labor and the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce and held at the Sampson Agri-Exposition Center.
Berry congratulated the group for their safety efforts, noting impressive records among those present. Berry, the first female DOL commissioner and the longest serving Republican in that position, is from Catawba County.
“It’s such an honor and privilege to be here,” said Berry after the dinner Tuesday night. Berry has been traveling to these banquets — from Asheville to Ahoskie — since March 27 and will continuing handing out awards through June 27.
“I want to recognize these achievements in safety and health,” Berry explained. Over 240 awards were presented during the banquet.
“We want people to come home safe and healthy at the end of the work day,” Berry reminded everyone, mentioning the declining injury and illness rate in the state. She said that the state had 2.9 injuries per 100 full time workers this year.
“You’re to thank for that,” she said to the crowd of representatives gathered to receive their awards.
The year 2013 saw 23 fatalities on the job that her office had to investigate.
“That 23, they represent individuals,” she reminded. Of that 23, she said, the fatalities were all men, with the average age of 44, ranging in age from 18 to 65.
“That 18-year old was struck by a log in a logging operation,” Berry detailed. “These men are fathers, husbands, brothers, grandpas, best friends, and members of the community.”
“Zero is what we are after,”she stressed. Berry explained that 80 percent of injuries are caused by what she called the “Big four”.
The first one is a fall from an elevation. She used as an example someone who was wearing all their equipment but forgot to place their anchor before climbing up. The second involved being struck by something. Examples included a log or a moving vehicle, a forklift, or some big equipment like a huge truck.
The third type, she said, was an injury caused by being caught in between or crushed by machinery. She cited a case where someone was working maintenance in a factory with robot equipment. That person, she said, went inside the machine and was crushed when the machine started up.
“The fourth type of injury is electrocution,” she explained. “We had a 38-year-old in a lift bucket come into contact with an overhead high voltage line. These types of injuries are 80 percent of the fatalities on the job in North Carolina.”
“I ask you to recognize and think, and not let it happen to anyone in your care,” Berry stressed to the group.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122. Follow us on Twitter: @SampsonInd