North Carolina's labor commissioner on Jan. 15 honored Clean Harbors' Technical Services of the Carolinas for its commitment to health and safety - handing out a recognition to the Reidsville branch that puts them in exclusive company.
The branch was recently certified in the North Carolina Department of Labor's Safety and Heath Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). With just 147 qualified employers out of roughly 221,000 employers in the state, the honor puts the Technical Services of the Carolinas in the top percentile for safety in North Carolina.
"Your dedication to safety is an example to everyone," said North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, at a ceremony in which she presented the branch with the SHARP flag and certificate. "Clean Harbors has become one of a select few participants across North Carolina on the Safety and Health Achievement Program. Everyone at Clean Harbors should be proud of this accomplishment."
Dealing with hazardous material collection, transportation and disposal, the Reidsville branch becomes the first technical services team with Clean Harbors to gain SHARP status - a state administered program.
"It makes sure our employees are safe, for one, and, number two, it tells our customers that we're a company that practices safety and has good management," said Technical Services Branch Manager Todd Sheaffer. "That's a good selling point going up against competitors. We can say 'hey we're a SHARP member.' That goes a long way."
"From the sales side, you can now say when you go to a customer's site - or potential customers' sites - you're one of the 147 in the state to have to certification to prove we're a safe company," added Regional Health and Safety Manager Ben McWhorter.
As with the Labor Department Star program, businesses must qualify for SHARP by having injury and illness rates below the state average in their industries. Star, however, is employee driven whereas SHARP - through inspections, assessments and interviews - focuses more on unique local training, safety programs, how incidents are handled, culture and management.
"It was fantastic that we got it. It was a big accomplishment," said Sheaffer. "It was a total team effort."
The 50-person technical services team originally planned to go for Star but switched gears to SHARP after some management flux over the years. With many requirements already in place, Berry encouraged them to keep after the Star and McWhorter plans to submit an application to the program in 2017. The Reidsville plant, as a whole, already has Star status and should be able the guide them along the way.
The branch prepared for the SHARP application for more than two years - a year of which was dedicated to the certification process.
"It's an attitude," McWhorter said. "Guys come in and not only are they doing their job like they're supposed to for Clean Harbors but they also make sure the job is done safely and they keep their co-workers and everyone safe."
McWhorter said the Tennessee technical services branches in Chattanooga and Greenbrier will submit a SHARP application this year. Other facilities will look into the possibility of obtaining SHARP or Star certifications in the future.