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Of all the deadly hazards people face at work, it’s not falling, or being struck by an object, or getting caught in something that is the most deadly. It’s another type of threat altogether. Read about the top killer of people at work in Kentucky, and see which worker is most at risk.
For Chasidy Hawkins, horses have been part of her whole life. She overcame an accident that almost cost her the ability to ride, and she used her love of horses to help a little boy in the fight of his life. See why taking the reins has been so valuable to Chasidy.
One school in Kentucky is turning heads– even grabbing the attention of NASA. Students are building better lives for themselves and companies are gaining highly-skilled workers to fill their needs. Read their story and watch a short video that has reached more than 50,000 people on social media.
It’s been around since the Middle Ages, but apprenticeship is still a tremendous pathway to a high-paying career. Watch a quick video about registered apprenticeship.
Workers’ Memorial Day is observed every year on April 28. It is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, to acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and to recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers. It is also the day OSHA was established in 1971.
Visit the website for the Kentucky-based support organization, United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF), by clicking here.
This is a busy year for all the staff at the Labor Cabinet, and there are a few milestones that deserve a quick mention. Read some of the things the cabinet is achieving in 2015.
The highly-trained staff of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet will be offering free OSHA training at Lexington’s Clarion Hotel from April 20-23. The courses include group-based and hands-on learning activities. See if a course can be right for you.
By proclamation of the governor, April is Prevent Child Abuse Month in Kentucky. See how you can help, and read about how widespread this terrible issue is for the Commonwealth.
It’s a state-of-the-art parts distribution warehouse that services dealerships across the United States and the world. They work quickly and efficiently, but the employees are not sacrificing safety. Learn how one company has found success in the number seven.
A German-owned automotive supplier in Kentucky has partnered with the Labor Cabinet and the Department of Education for a new apprenticeship initiative. See how it’s the first of its kind.
When you think about companies that take safety seriously in Kentucky, Big Rivers has to be at the top of the list. The energy provider has recently earned its 38th Governor’s Safety and Health Award. See why Big Rivers isn’t finished yet.
In the winter of 2007, Chasidy Hawkins hit a patch of ice in her 4Runner. It was sudden and horrifying, and with no control she found herself spinning into oncoming traffic on the always busy Versailles Road.
In a car crash, a strange thing often happens: time slows down. What happens in seconds often seems like minutes. Fear makes the heart race, and the human brain’s defense mechanisms kick into high gear. It’s survival mode.
Even as a little girl, Chasidy knew the feeling of an adrenaline rush. She was 12 years old and sitting on a big, powerful Quarter Horse in the starting gate before a barrel race. She held the reins with one hand and tugged on her cowgirl hat with the other. Then she was set. The butterflies were racing inside her, and then it was time.
Her horse was named Sugar. She had bought her for $1,000 with her own money she had saved up taking care of calves and selling them each year. For a 12-year-old, a grand is quite an amazing fortune. Think of all the toys that could buy! Think of all the candy. But Chasidy wanted a horse. She had grown up around horses, with her mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and cousins all riding. In fact, she had been on a horse before she was born. Her mother didn’t let pregnancy stop her from riding.
Then the race started. It was her and Sugar against time. With hundreds of people watching, they bolted across a dirt ring with barrels scattered around, and they flowed in a clover-leaf pattern, careful not to hit the barrels or knock them over. Barrel racing was in her blood.
Now she’s married with children, and her family owns and takes care of four horses. She’s a member of the International Barrel Racing Association and competes in races just about every weekend.
“When you get into that gate, I don’t know, I still get butterflies,” she says. Her current horse is Roxy, who stands 15 hands high, and is a sorrel with white stripe on her nose and a white sock over her front right hoof, which stands out beautifully against her dark copper chestnut coat.
Her favorite thing to do is go camping and riding. “It’s my therapy,” she says. “Just being in the barn is calming and soothing for the soul.”
She gets up every morning before the sunrise, and she heads to the barn to feed and water her horses. Then she gets her two boys off to school and comes to work at the Labor Cabinet, where she has worked since 2006 and is an administrative specialist. She takes care of the education and training health staff, making sure they have their assignments, training records and proper supplies so they can help companies and workers across Kentucky stay safe and healthy on the job.
When her 4Runner slid into oncoming traffic on Versailles Road, a woman in another car T-boned her, and the SUV’s frame was split in two. The jarring impact knocked her hips out of place. The pain rushed in and everything stopped.
Fast forward two months, and Chasidy had a crucial question for her doctor. “Can I start riding again?”
The doctor wasn’t too sure. Chasidy was. Her grandmother is 77 and still rides. “I’m not going to stop riding,” she told the doctor.
She rides. She rides as much as she can. The pain is still there, eight years later, but she doesn’t let it stop her from competing in barrel races.
For five years, Chasidy has served as an officer of the Mt. Eden Saddle Club, where she organizes monthly horse shows. Hundreds of people come to the shows and bring their horses to compete.
Horses always had a healing power for Chasidy. They brought her joy, excitement and mental rehabilitation. But she never realized how much they could do for a little 9-year-old boy named Blake Hundley.
Blake Hundley’s parents are friends of Chasidy’s. Blake was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was six.
“He is always smiling. He has been an inspiration,” she says. “He knows he has cancer, but they haven’t explained to him it is terminal– there is no cure.”
Blake’s family takes him to frequent treatments. He is on chemotherapy and uses a feeding tube because he has no appetite. He needs constant medication. The medical bills piled up, and time away from work cost his father his job. All the time, the cancer keeps growing in his brain and has travelled into his spine.
Chasidy organized two special horse shows. She spread the word throughout the horse-loving community that the concessions, entry fees and any donations would all go to help Blake’s family. One show raised $8,000. Another show made $12,000.
Blake’s mom couldn’t believe it. Then the chemotherapy started working, and the cancer disappeared from his spine. It’s still the same in his brain, but his attitude remains positive.
He wanted a tree house to play in outside, and early this year Chasidy started a Facebook page called A Treehouse Come True. Within 24 hours the page had 800 likes. People pitched in with donations of money, time and labor. Now, the treehouse is almost finished.
Other dreams are coming true for Blake. He got to meet Willie Cauley-Stein of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. He was able to take a tour of the UK locker room. Then, thanks to a state lawmaker and a crowd-funding website, Blake and his parents were able to go to the Final Four to see WCS and the Cats in action. He rode in a limousine from his hotel to the stadium.
“I call him my superstar,” says Chasidy.
No matter the obstacle, whether it is a car crash, or a lack of money for the family of little boy with cancer, Chasidy is ready to take the reins — and run with it.
From Kentucky to the stars
Bob Zeek holds a highly-specialized fluid hose in his hand. It’s grey and silver, and about half as big as his hand. It looks like a cross between a screw and a doorknob, but it appears finely-crafted with intricate grooves and details.
Bob knows what he’s holding. He knows it’s special. He’s a NASA engineer from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and he turns the object over in his hand and looks at it carefully.
“This is a $10,000 fluid hose,” he says. “It would normally cost about $10,000 for manufacturing and the certifications that go along with it. This will go up and be used on the International Space Station.”
Building better lives
Bob sits in a classroom in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. He’s at the Breckinridge County Area Technology Center, where high school students are learning about machining, computer aided design, and 3-D printing. They are learning skills that will allow them to become registered apprentices, where typically companies will pay 100 percent of their training costs and eventually allow them to develop careers that will pay big salaries.
“Here in Breckinridge County, there’s not a lot of industry,” says Dean Monarch, the man who decided more than 15 years ago to leave the private sector, take a 68 percent cut in pay, and start teaching students about machining. He hasn’t looked back since. “It’s mostly agriculture around here. But these students, after four years in an apprenticeship program, they will start out their jobs making up to $45,000 to $60,000 a year.”
The high school students at this school aren’t just building better lives for themselves, they are turning heads across the country. The school’s front hallway has cases lined with trophies, not for basketball and track, but for skills like machining, welding and carpentry, which will turn into high-paying jobs. The school finished in the top 10 in the country for machining with SkillsUSA, which has more than 10,000 chapters across the county and holds a national competition each year.
“This school is top-notch,” says Bob Zeek. “It’s not just NASA that needs students like these, it’s our contract companies like Boeing and others.”
The students will build 12 of the fluid hoses like the one Bob Zeek brought them from NASA. After school, they’re getting good jobs, too, working at quality companies like Atlas Machine and Supply in Louisville, Whitworth Tool in Hardinsburg, or Metalsa in Elizabethtown and Hopkinsville. At Metalsa, which is an automotive supplier, machinists and tool and die makers are earning $24 an hour, or $48,000, with just two or three years’ experience.
“You’ll see a long line of traffic heading out of Breckinridge County heading to start the next shift at a company in Louisville,” says Mr. Monarch. “And these kids aren’t just saying look at the new truck I bought, they are saying look at my new farm.”
On the right track
Mason Clemmons is a high school senior who is part of the TRACK program, which stands for Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky. TRACK is a partnership between the Office of Career and Technical Education and the Kentucky Labor Cabinet to provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities to secondary students. It’s an industry-driven program to create a pipeline for students to enter post-secondary apprenticeship training.
“With this I’m able to do something that others don’t have the skills to do,” he says. “I can use machining to make everything from a refrigerator to a jet engine.”
Stephanie Hammons is a senior who wants to design diesel engines in her career. First, though, she plans to go into the Navy. She knows her skills will take her far. “I knew since my sophomore year when I took this class that I liked it,” she says. “It’s hands-on and not book work.”
“There’s been a lack of opportunity for young men and women who didn’t plan on going to college,” says Mr. Monarch. “But these students will go on to get a grade and a paycheck.”
Guaranteed a job
Registered apprenticeship blends classroom instruction with practical on-the-job training, which can range from one to five years. Apprentices are paid on a progressive pay scale that increases as skills improve.
Careers in construction, advanced manufacturing, transportation, energy, health care and utilities are available for apprentices. The U.S. Dept. of Labor recognizes more than 1,200 apprenticeable occupations. The industries utilize concepts in electronics, computers, software, automation and work methods to improve production and enhance global competitiveness.
“Machining is not getting your hands dirty,” says Bob Zeek. “It’s engineering, it’s math, it’s the business model of how you get your materials and make it all work.”
“It’s fun,” says senior Nathan French. “I just want to keep machining.”
“I want to design and engineer cars,” says sophomore Michael Flaugher. “I like building stuff.”
“You’re pretty much guaranteed a job if you work at it,” says senior Dylan Hoskins.
Bob Zeek closes the lid on his NASA laptop and looks out past the classroom’s rows of desks and computers, through the large windows into the adjacent workshop, where students are sweeping up fragments of metal and cleaning large milling machines with shiny knobs and various handles, cranks, levers and buttons. He lets his glasses dangle from the string around his neck and he smiles. He will get back in his blue minivan and drive to Alabama, back to the Marshall Space Flight Center, back to NASA, and he knows he is bringing back something special.
He’s bringing back a new generation of engineers and machinists. He’s found a goldmine of skilled, talented and dedicated workers — workers who will be a perfect fit for employers who have big dreams and deep pockets.
Mr. Monarch and the students at the Breckinridge County Area Technology Center have more than the attention of NASA. They have companies lining up to invest in registered apprenticeship, and they know they are building better futures — not only for themselves, but for a better Kentucky and, ultimately, a better world.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 10, 2015) – Deputy Secretary Rocky Comito of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet today presented the Governor’s Safety and Health Award to the employees of CLARK Material Handling in Louisville. The honor recognizes the employees for working more than 725,715 hours without a lost-time accident or illness.
Kentucky Labor Secretary Larry L. Roberts praised the accomplishment, which is the seventh Governor’s Safety and Health Award for CLARK Material Handling in Louisville.
“This is yet another example in a long line of achievements that show how much emphasis CLARK Material Handling puts on safety,” said Secretary Roberts. “When everybody pays attention to safety, it becomes part of the culture and tradition of a company, and that is exactly what we see here.”
CLARK is a global manufacturer of powered industrial trucks with more than 550 locations worldwide and dealerships in 80 countries. The Louisville facility, which employs more than 30 people, is a state-of-the-art parts distribution warehouse that services international and domestic dealerships. CLARK also has a facility in Lexington, which includes manufacturing, engineering, sales, marketing and corporate offices.
“Everyone at CLARK has safety as their top priority,” said CLARK President and CEO Dennis Lawrence. “Receiving the Governor’s Safety and Health award seven times for our Louisville facility is quite an accomplishment. It demonstrates that CLARK truly cares for the health and safety of its employees and that our employees are serious about ensuring our safety culture for the future. We are extremely proud of the employees in our facilities who create a culture of safety every day.”
The Kentucky Labor Cabinet presents the Governor’s Safety and Health Award in recognition of outstanding safety and health performance. An establishment may qualify for the award if its employees together achieve a required number of hours worked without experiencing a lost-time injury or illness. The required number of hours is dependent upon the number of employees. In the case of CLARK Material Handling, the requirement is 250,000.
The Governor’s Safety and Health Award program is part of Gov. Steve Beshear’s efforts to improve the health of all Kentuckians. The Governor launched kyhealthnow last year as an aggressive and wide-ranging initiative to reduce incidents and deaths from Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits. It builds on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health.
Every establishment within the geographical boundaries of Kentucky is eligible, even if the establishment won the award the previous year. Eligibility is limited to one award during a 12-month period of time.
The award is a certificate mounted on a wooden plaque. The certificate contains the signatures of Kentucky Gov. Beshear, Secretary Roberts and Department of Workplace Standards Commissioner Anthony Russell.
For more on the Governor’s Safety and Health Award, and for a list of past winners, click here.
For more on CLARK Material Handling Company, visit www.clarkmhc.com.
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HENDERSON, Ky. (March 11, 2015) – Commissioner of Workplace Standards Anthony Russell of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet joined employees and officials in Henderson to honor the headquarters of Big Rivers Electric Corp. with the Governor’s Safety and Health Award. The honor recognizes the member-owned cooperative’s headquarters for more than 753,000 hours without a lost-time accident or illness. The headquarters had its last lost-time incident in June 2011.
Kentucky Labor Secretary Larry L. Roberts said it’s obvious that safety is important to all employees at Big Rivers.
“Every day the employees at the headquarters for Big Rivers are keeping safety in mind in everything they do,” said Secretary Roberts. “They have set an example for companies across the Commonwealth, and it’s no secret that Big Rivers has established itself as an employer that puts great emphasis and pride in preventing workplace injuries and illnesses.”
Incorporated in 1961, Big Rivers has earned 37 previous Governor’s Safety and Health Awards throughout the years. The corporation is a member-owned, not-for-profit, generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Henderson. With more than 500 employees, Big Rivers owns, operates and maintains a 1,285-mile transmission system, three generating plants and 22 substations.
“As the president and CEO, it’s very satisfying when you see employees display a collaborative spirit, so receiving the Commonwealth’s highest safety honor once again is a tribute to all headquarters’ employees working collectively to make this achievement a reality,” said Bob Berry, CEO of Big Rivers. “Looking out for the health and wellness of your colleagues is a culture we encourage at Big Rivers; therefore, it is rewarding to know the safety tradition is being recognized by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.”
Big Rivers is owned by three distribution cooperative members: Jackson Purchase Energy Corp., headquartered in Paducah; Kenergy Corp., headquartered in Henderson; and Meade County Rural Electric Cooperative Corp., headquartered in Brandenburg. These member cooperatives serve approximately 114,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in portions of 22 western Kentucky counties.
The Kentucky Labor Cabinet presents the Governor’s Safety and Health Award in recognition of outstanding safety and health performance. An establishment may qualify for the award if its employees together achieve a required number of hours worked without experiencing a lost-time injury or illness. The required number of hours is dependent upon the number of employees. In the case of Big Rivers’s headquarters, the requirement is 250,000 hours.
For more on Big Rivers, visit www.bigrivers.com.
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In a ceremony including Labor Secretary Larry L. Roberts, Gov. Beshear signed an official proclamation declaring April Child Abuse Prevention Month in Kentucky. Gov. Beshear said there are almost 850,000 Kentuckians who are age 14 or younger.
“That’s 13 college football stadiums filled to capacity,” he said. “Imagine if you could make a difference for each of those children.”
Kentucky’s Child Protective Services reports that in 2014 there were reports of abuse or neglect involving more than 80,000 children in Kentucky, and nearly 23,000 of those cases were confirmed.
There are four major types of child maltreatment: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
If you suspect a child is being abused, call 1-877-KY SAFE1 (1-877-597-2331) to make a confidential report.
“Together, we can prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Gov. Beshear. The governor said there are many ways to help, including volunteering for an organization serving children, or volunteering to do an errand for a parent in need, or by wearing blue on April 10 for Commit to Prevent Day to raise awareness.
“Child abuse impacts each of us, and each of our communities,” said Jill Seyfred executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. “The Kentucky Labor Cabinet and organized labor have been key partners in the prevention of child abuse for more than 20 years. Everybody has just been awesome, and we couldn’t move forward with our mission without their support.”
For more information on how you can get involved, contact 1-800-CHILDREN, or visit the website of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky at www.pcaky.org.
-By March, the Labor Cabinet reached a milestone of more than $1 million collected in wage restitution for Kentucky’s workers. Unpaid overtime, withheld final paychecks, illegal deductions of pay and lower pay than the legal minimum wage requirement are common examples of wage theft.
–In May, the Labor Cabinet could exceed last year’s total of 7,000 employees representing 37 employers participating in the Stand-Down to Prevent Falls. The stand-down runs from May 4-15, and is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about protection against falls.
–By August, the Labor Cabinet will have completion and full conversion of every page of a redesigned website. Labor.ky.gov has undergone a major facelift in an attempt to make it more user-friendly. There had been a lot of clutter before, and now the new front page is live and offers new features with easier search methods and categories. We’re going through the process of converting every page to match the new look and format.
-By October, the Labor Cabinet hopes to secure a $5 million American Apprenticeship Grant for Kentucky. The United States Department of Labor’s American Apprenticeship Initiative provides an opportunity for Kentucky to leverage the Kentucky Skills Network, industry partnerships, and other employer-led initiatives to expand apprenticeship as a workforce development tool for high-growth, high-demand fields.
–By November, the Dept. of Workers’ Claims will offer all services online. The new features include an online filing system and new litigation management system. This includes claims processing, submission of self-insurance documents, managed care documents, drug-free work place documents, email notification of changes to employer’s insurance carrier, and the processing of internal documents in the enforcement area.
–By December, the Dept. of Workers’ Claims expects to be up to date on all black lung claims. This means all black lung claims that were delayed in any way by the Gardner case. In a 2011 Kentucky Supreme Court case of Vision Mining v. Gardner, the state’s highest court ruled that claims of pneumoconiosis (black lung disease) must be evaluated like any other lung disease. The ruling affected about 3,000 finalized black lung claims over the past decade.