ROCKINGHAM — Several city departments have been given the Gold Award for safety issued by the North Carolina Department of Labor, each of them having zero incidents in 2017, City Manager Monty Crump announced at the Rockingham City Council meeting last week.
The winning departments were: Administration, Building and Grounds, Recreation, Waste Water, Water Treatment and the Fire Department.
Mike Deprizio, director of safety and risk management for the City of Rockingham for the last eight months, said enforcing the city’s existing safety policies has been the biggest key to keeping a clean safety record for these departments.
“We’ve come a long way in the awareness of safety,” Deprizio said. “We’re taking care of our citizens and our employees — it’s been a really great turnaround.”
Perfection isn’t the standard to receive a Gold Award. A department must have no fatalities at the “site or location for which the award was given” and have maintained an incidence rate at least 50 percent below the average for its industry group, according to the NCDL website.
The Gold Award is the highest honor that the NCDL gives for safety. The winning departments will receive their awards at a banquet on May 21 in Wadesboro.
“It’s a big achievement,” Crump said at the city council meeting.
Fire Chief Harold Isler said 2017 is the only year the fire department has been without an incident in his four-year tenure, a change he attributes to a renewed focus by Deprizio and Crump.
“Safety is first and foremost to keep ourselves safe before we can help anyone else,” Isler said. “It’s about mindfulness … (Deprizio and Crump) have instilled it in me and I’ve instilled in my guys.”
Two other departments, Rockingham Police and Public Works, were close to getting the Gold Award, according to Deprizio.
“I’m going to keep pushing that culture of safety so that maybe next year we can have everybody getting gold,” he said.