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North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Discusses Possible Cuts, Maintaining Focus on Safety During American Society of Safety Engineers’ E. Carolina Meeting

Posted in on Fri, Oct 22, 2010

Des Plaines, IL (October 22, 2010) — At the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Eastern Carolina Chapter and East Carolina University (ECU) student section’s virtual meeting featuring North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry Thursday, the issues of budget cuts, keeping focus on preventing workplace injuries and illnesses and more were discussed. A long-time distinguished safety professional and leader, Commissioner Berry provided valuable information about occupational safety and health and the future of the North Carolina Department of Labor for the many ASSE members in attendance.

This session was hosted by Dr. Mike Behm and the ASSE student section at ECU and was attended by regional and national ASSE leaders and members, as well as ECU students. Berry provided important information about the current state of the North Carolina Department of Labor and the future of programs and services dedicated to protecting the safety and health of workers.

According to Berry, North Carolina is currently in the top five states with budget deficits. Due to this deficit, Berry predicted that cuts will be made on a state and federal level, but that the primary goals of the North Carolina Department of Labor is to maintain delivery of products and services for the safety and health of North Carolina workers. North Carolina has one of the strongest programs in the country when it comes to state plans for reducing worker injuries and illnesses. The department customizes its programs to the needs of the state’s citizens. Based on state-specific data, the department tailors its programs to target high hazard industries and values the relationships forged between the department as a regulatory agency and businesses.

Berry stated, “We plan to very carefully examine our programs so that any cuts that are made do not negatively influence our ability to serve the people of North Carolina or our goals of preventing injuries, illnesses and fatalities statewide.”

Since 2005, the injury and illness rate for North Carolina workers has been trending downward and Berry urges employers not to cut valuable safety programs when faced with budget deficits due to the state of the economy. The North Carolina Department of Labor conducts approximately 5,000 on site inspections per year to identify workplace hazards. One of the tools in place to help accomplish these inspections is the N.C. Special Star team. The Star Team is comprised of safety professionals throughout the state that attend special training sessions in March. This program has helped the Department of Labor expand its efforts to conduct on site visits and has provided opportunities for collaboration between businesses and safety professionals. Overall, the department’s efforts will remain strong despite any impending budget cuts.

ASSE’s Eastern Carolina Chapter was chartered in 1984 and currently has nearly 100 members representing more than 20 counties. For more information about the Eastern Carolina Chapter and upcoming events, please visit www.asseec.org. ECU and the Eastern Carolina ASSE Chapter have been partnering and delivering virtual meetings since 2006. For information on virtual meetings, please contact Mike Behm at behmm@ecu.edu.

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to www.asse.org.



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