Have you ever tripped on an electric cord, bumped into an open drawer or pulled down a box whose contents emptied on top of your head? You probably shrugged, rubbed your bruised shoulder, and vowed to pay more attention next time.

In the work place, there is no “next time.” Safety is more than good sense and OSHA regulations. It’s about caring for workers and providing a safe environment.

For the past two years, the North Carolina Department of Labor has recognized The Outer Banks Hospital as a gold award winner for maintaining a safe and healthful workplace. “We educate our employees on safety issues throughout the year,” said the hospital’s Occupational Health Nurse Colleen Kakretz. “We encourage them to correct safety issues before they cause an injury.”

To qualify for the safety award, a firm must have had no work related fatalities at the site during the calendar year and have maintained a below 50 percent rate of days away from work, restricted activity or job transfer due to work related injuries for that particular industry.

“When one of my people sees a potential safety hazard, they stop what they are doing and fix it,” said Mike Lynch, the hospital’s Facilities Director. “We make ‘safety’ everyone’s business here at the hospital.”

Both Kakretz and Lynch were recently challenged by the smoke from the wildfire in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. They immediately took action and installed HEPA air filters throughout the hospital to remove particulate from the air. Also, the hospital’s air intake handlers were carefully monitored to bring in more air when conditions outside were less smoky and less when the outside air was smoke filled. Carbon monoxide levels were monitored throughout the building for dangerous levels. In short, the hospital followed all the guidelines recommended by California hospitals that are often caught in the cross winds of wild fires.

“We’ve got a great team here,” said hospital president Van Smith. “Incidents and situations are often solved before they become problems. The award is a testament to their great work.”