OCWA–Central New York’s Water Authority–was recently honored to be awarded the 2020 Safety Award from the New York Section of the American Water Works Association (NYSAWWA) for its comprehensive, inclusive and sustained commitment to safety.  The award was presented at NYSAWWA’s virtual awards program held on June 30.

One of the key components of OCWA’s comprehensive safety program is its employee-led Safety Committee. The Committee reinforces management’s commitment to safety in establishing and maintaining a safe and efficient work environment. The Committee maximizes employee involvement through representation of at least one employee from every department.  The group meets monthly to discuss mutual concerns, suggestions, and good practices.

OCWA also has a suggestion program which encourages employees to submit suggestions to improve our practices by making them safer and more efficient.  If a suggestion is approved and implemented, the employee receives either a monetary award or paid time off. One recent suggestion involved the purchase of new safety equipment storage lockers.  The lockers were purchased and installed at one of our water treatment plants.  Each employee is assigned his or her own locker where they can store their personal protective equipment used on a routine basis.  The result has been increased efficiency and organization at the plant.

Another recent safety initiative was the addition of a vacuum excavation truck to OCWA’s fleet of vehicles and equipment.  The truck is used by our Distribution Maintenance Department.  This state-of-the-art equipment allows maintenance crews to make smaller excavations and is being used in locations where we have other buried utilities in close proximity to our water lines.  This type of excavation minimizes the potential damage to other utilities and makes the process safer for our workers.

Collectively, all of OCWA’s safety initiatives have resulted in better and safer work practices, increased employee morale, and reductions in injuries and lost time incidents.  In short, our robust safety program means OCWA employees operate in a more efficient and safe work environment.