Dover & Foxcroft Water District honored for safety practices
DOVER-FOXCROFT — The Dover and Foxcroft Water District was recognized by the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards for its safe and healthful workplace with a Safety and Health Award for Public Employees (SHAPE) Award. The honor was presented by department officials during the monthly district trustees meeting on Aug. 12 at the district office inside the Morton Avenue Municipal Building.
Michael LaPlante, program manager for the Maine Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Standards Workplace Safety and Health Division, said the organization oversees all public sector enforcement “which is like OSHA only for the public side” for entities such as town, county and state governments and school districts.
“We are always looking for employers that go out of their way to provide a safe and healthful workplace which is their responsibility under the law,” he said.
“In order to get into the SHAPE program, somebody has to have the interest to apply to get into the program, their injury rates have to be at or below the state average for in this instance water districts,” LaPlante said about some of the criteria. “You do a survey providing your injury logs for the last five years, calculate your restricted rate, your days away and if that looks good we come in and do what’s called a consultation, a very thorough consultation.
“We don’t give out these awards lightly. This program was started in 2005 and I think to date there have been 90 total, and I think in water districts only a dozen since 2005. Granted these are all things you are required to do but we are looking for people who want to take that proactive step which you folks did.”
Steven Greeley, director of the Maine Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Standards workplace safety and health division, said presenting SHAPE honors to recognize employers is his favorite part of the job.
“When you look at this award, it’s a win-win for everybody involved,” he said. “Workers want to be working for a safe work site, someplace that they can feel proud of, and by having something like this you know they have that safe workplace. From an employer standpoint, not having injuries, keeping your worker’s comp down, that kind of thing is mostly beneficial for the town and then from our standpoint you’re working with consultation, you’re not having injury, our time could be much better spent elsewhere at locations that don’t have programs in place that are having injuries. It’s one of those things I really enjoy because it’s really a win-win-win for everybody involved.”
“This is a 2-year award but there’s little plates at the bottom,” Greeley said. “Nothing could please us more than to come back in a couple years and give you a plate to extend this program.”
As a SHAPE Award recipient, the water district is exempt from the Bureau of Labor’s routine or programmed inspections for the next two years.
“This is from everybody, we all put our efforts in,” Dover and Foxcroft Water District Superintendent Matthew Demers said upon receiving the plaque from Greeley. “The board’s been supporting us all along, they want a safe workplace and they’ve been supporting us all the way through.”
Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville then presented the district with a Legislative Sentiment. Davis said he researched the SHAPE Award and “I could tell it was not a minor achievement.”
He said presenting such honors is among the best duties he has as a legislator, “Over the years I’ve given out a lot of Legislative Sentiments but seldom have I have given one to a governmental agency.”