OSHA awards Lehi firefighters a Utah first

2012-05-06T06:15:00Z 2012-05-07T06:48:52Z OSHA awards Lehi firefighters a Utah firstCathy Allred - Daily Herald Daily Herald
May 06, 2012 6:15 am  • 

LEHI -- The Utah Labor Commission recognized the Lehi Fire Department earlier this week as the first public municipal entity in the state to receive an OSHA award through its Safety and Health Award Recognition Program called SHARP.

"It was a great work and a great privilege for these guys to get it," Lehi City risk manager Scott Sampson said. "We've done a lot of work, a lot of paperwork, a lot of hard work, cleaning and making sure we were up to date on all of our procedures. Everything had to be crossed and dotted and then double checked."

He said they had been working on the process to qualify for the award since October.

Utah State Labor Commissioner Sherrie Hayashi presented the awards to Mayor Bert Wilson and Lehi Fire Chief Dale Ekins, along with several of the city's staff. Each of Lehi's fire stations received a framed certificate, a plaque with the award dates and space for future renewals, and a flag with the SHARP award logo.

"It's hard to explain that it's not just a simple award, it is recognition for an exemplary health and safety program." Hayashi said. "These employers place their employee's health and well-being as the priority for their business. They have a culture of safety that permeates their organization from top management to front-line employees."

Lehi City Fire Department's two stations, 81 and 82, are the first public employers to receive this recognition in Utah, she said.

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, gives recognition to small employers and public employers who pass a rigorous review of their workplace safety and health programs and activities.

"The firefighters had to meet requirements for respiratory protection, department safety, apparatus safety, building safety, health -- that is where the respiratory protection came in -- there were a bunch of different parameters they had us meet in order for us to be able to achieve this award," Battalion Chief Rick Howard said.

"Now the interesting thing is that a lot of these things we already are doing" he said. "It's good to be recognized, you know, for the stuff that we do already on a day-to-day basis." Lehi City employs full-time fire fighters and paramedic response ambulances 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and maintains the highest certifications that the Utah State Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Utah Fire & Rescue Academy offers. The in-house instructors for the department are associated with the American Heart Association, National Fire Academy, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, National Incident Management System as well as other nationally respected EMS and firefighting agencies.

"It's also interesting that we are the first public municipality to win that award," Howard said. "I thought that there would be a lot more."

Not only is the public sector not qualifying for the award, there are only a handful of private agencies who have earned the award in Utah. Sweet's Candy Company since 2004, Jennmar Corporation, 2005; Futura Industries, 2006; the Horsely Company, 2009; Balchem, 2009; Kihomac, 2011; Boart Longyear, April 2012 are listed on the Utah OSHA website as having earned the award. OSHA Utah has added Lehi Fire Department to the list as well "since April 2012."

"A lot of people get scared about OSHA and about inviting them in, you know, but OSHA was good to work with," Howard said. "They gave us a lot of help and some guidance."

To participate in the OSHA program, city officials had to consult first with OSHA staff. More information on the SHARP program is available at laborcommission.utah.gov/divisions/UOSH/SharpProgram.html.

Other Lehi city departments will not be pursuing a SHARP award for some time, according to the city's risk manager.

"No, not right now," Sampson said with emphatic conviction and laughed.

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