The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced June 12 that four businesses in Illinois have taken top honors in the fifth annual "Z Project" awards for workplace safety and health practices and concepts.
OSHA's Peoria Area Office developed the "Z Project" to encourage central and southern Illinois employers to eliminate and control hazards, and improve their safety and health programs. Employers in 81 of Illinois' 102 counties participate in the project.
The annual awards are presented in four categories. The highest honor, the Area Director's Choice Award, went to Nestle USA of Bloomington, Ill., which took proactive measures to eliminate fall hazards at several locations on the worksite.
The Lifesaver Award, presented for a control that could save a life, was given to Clinton Power Station – Amergen Energy LLC, Clinton, Ill., for developing and implementing a program for electrical rescue techniques. With proper insulated rescue tools and techniques, the site is now better able to perform life-saving actions, should an employee have inadvertent contact with an energized component.
Bridgestone Firestone received the Pluto Award, presented for a concept that is unusual and innovative. The Bloomington company identified knife cuts as a hazard in the areas where tire rubber was sized. Knives stored in a bin with other tools meant employees were exposed to lacerations when reaching for a tool. As a result of the company's Safety Awareness/Near Miss Form, an employee's idea to install a magnetic tool holder on the side of the cabinets for all knives was implemented.
The Alveoli Protection Award for health control was presented to the Peoria Park District, which completed a renovation at a marina's septic pumping station that allowed employees to clean the septic system remotely rather than entering a confined space.
"We're delighted with the continued success of the 'Z Project,'" OSHA's Peoria area director Nick Walters said. "Comments from participants tell us we not only challenge employers to be proactive on workplace safety and health issues but also encourage them to include their employees in the process of problem solving."
A "Z Project" conference provides employers and OSHA a forum to share methods that have been successful in controlling hazards, and provides leadership for an ongoing dialogue on safety and health in the workplace. The project was named after a former Peoria area director.