Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Walking the packing line of Duckwall-Pooley Fruit Company brings home just how fast the abundant fruit crop travels on its way to American tables and those overseas.
Yet, while experienced workers' hands keep steady pace with the pears rushing along conveyors, speed isn't the only thing in great supply here.
Safety is actually number one, along with worker health.
At DP, these priorities include, during high season, free sample massages for line workers and regular exercise breaks, sometimes attended by the company president.
These innovative work-place practices, among many others, have gained the attention of some pretty important eyes.
Hood River's own Duckwall-Pooley received a coveted Oregon Governor's Award as an exemplary employer in the field of jobsite occupational health and safety.
Only 16 other industry leaders statewide were honored with similar awards at the 2011 Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference in March.
"We were totally surprised at receiving the nomination and the award," said Kathy Nishimoto, vice president and director of human resources.
"We are actually the first agri-business in Oregon to receive one of these awards," continued Nishimoto. "You know ag is tough; with so many repetitive-motion jobs."
Duckwall-Pooley was nominated by its loss-control consultant, Scott Clark, from SAIF Corporation (workers compensation insurance provider for Oregon).
Awards aside, it isn't recognition that motivates the company to focus on safety and employee health.
"We really work at this (safety). Our driver is making sure employees go home in the same or better condition than when they came to work each day," Nishimoto said.
At the March 9 awards ceremony, 15 DP shift supervisors and department heads accompanied the company president, Fred Duckwall, to the winner's luncheon at the Convention Center in Portland.
According to Clark's nomination letter, the company's commitment to safety "starts with the owner, Fred Duckwall. His involvement with the program is highly visible."
This personal commitment supports ongoing teamwork throughout the company to maintain safe and healthy practices.
"A special emphasis is placed on advanced communication and empowerment training," noted Clark.
The Hood River assemblage jointly took home an impressive glass statuette emblazoned with the governor's honor, which, along with their winning banner, is now displayed proudly in the company offices.
A panel of industry professionals judged the awards, which honor extraordinary contributions to the field of workplace safety and health.
The 2011 awards were presented for exemplary safety performance to employers, employees, safety committees and workplace associations throughout the state.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge