Watauga Opportunities COVID-19 collection vials

In spring 2020, Watauga Opportunities Inc. employees assembled and packaged sample collection vials used in COVID-19 test kits.

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Labor recognized area employers and employees at the agency’s virtual annual safety awards banquet held Tuesday, Oct. 20.

“We didn’t want COVID-19 to prevent us from recognizing these employers in the Morganton area and surrounding communities who are making a commitment to their employees’ safety and health,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “Over the years, North Carolina has experienced a declining injury and illness rate, which remains at a historic low 2.4 per 100 full-time workers for private industry. These employers continue to make North Carolina workplaces some of the safest in the country and deserve this recognition.”

The awards honor outstanding on-the-job safety achievements of each recipient during 2019. Recipients recognized are in Morganton and surrounding counties.

Commissioner Berry provided keynote remarks at the virtual meeting, which was her final safety awards presentation as labor commissioner.

The local recipients have met the stringent requirements necessary to receive a safety award.

Under program rules, companies must have been free of fatal accidents at the site for which the award is given to be eligible. The Gold Award criteria are based on a DART rate that is at least 50% below the statewide rate for its industry. The rate includes cases of days away from work, restricted activity or job transfer.

Gold Award recipients in the High Country included Coca-Cola Consolidated Inc. of Boone; DHHS Division Vocational Rehabilitation Services — Boone Unit; Vannoy Construction, James R. Vannoy and Sons Construction; Skyline Membership Corp. (second consecutive year); Chandler Concrete Co. Inc. Boone Plant No. 501 (fourth consecutive year); Blue Ridge Energies LLC, Watauga District (fifth consecutive year); Chandler Concrete Co. Inc., Blowing Rock Plant No. 502 (sixth consecutive year); Watauga Opportunities Inc. (seventh consecutive year); Vulcan Construction Materials LP, Mideast Division — Avery Sales Yard (eight consecutive year); Vulcan Construction Materials LP, Mideast Division — Boone Quarry (12th consecutive year); American Emergency Vehicles (14th consecutive year); and Chandler Concrete Co. Inc. Jefferson Plant No. 504 (17th consecutive year).

The Silver Award is based only on cases with days away from work. They are recorded when the worker misses at least one full day of work, not including the day of the injury. The applicant must attain an incidence rate for cases with days away from work that is at least 50% below the rate for its industry.

Silver Award recipients from the High Country included the Appalachian State University Workers Compensation Office (second consecutive year).

Watauga Opportunities Inc. of Boone was one of three recipients of the Million-Hour Award, for 1 million hours, or multiples thereof, with no lost time accidents.

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