City of Anacortes Water Treatment Plant Achieves START Status

DOSH Division Asst. Director Michael Silverstein presents the City of Anacortes with a plaque to commemorate their acceptance into L&I's START program.Water treatment plant in Anacortes becomes the first municipal worksite to join L&I safety program

TUMWATER –The City of Anacortes Water Treatment Plant, which supplies drinking water to 56,000 customers, has become the first municipal work site in Washington state to participate in the Safety Through Achieving Recognition Together (START) program.

START is administered by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&) and is modeled on a federal program. It recognizes workplaces with exemplary safety records that have shown a commitment to health and safety at work.

Plant manager Jamie LeBlanc gave credit to Jeff Marrs, an operator at the plant and the city’s safety representative, for pushing the idea of participating in the START program.

“It wasn’t easy, but it has definitely made the plant safer and a better place to work,” LeBlanc said. “This is a 40-year-old plant that runs 24 hours a day. We just want to make sure we are doing the best we can to keep everybody safe.”

L&I Assistant Director Michael Silverstein, head of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, will present a plaque to city officials and several workers from the plant at the Anacortes City Council meeting on Oct. 17.

“I am pleased that I will be able to welcome the City of Anacortes Water Treatment Plant into the START program,” Silverstein said. “For those of us in the field of occupational safety and health, being able to recognize a work site where management and workers team up to improve safety for everyone is very rewarding.”

The Anacortes Water Treatment Plant in Mount Vernon sits on the east bank of the Skagit River and turns the river water into drinkable tap water. The treatment process involves disinfecting the water to destroy harmful organisms as well as natural purification methods. Because the entire process must be closely monitored, the plant is staffed around the clock.

Employers participating in START must have an injury rate below their industry average for at least one year and allow L&I safety and health experts to visit the work site and review workplace hazards, examine safety and health programs, and interview workers and managers.

One safety program that was beefed up at the plant as a result of L&I’s review was the emergency response plan for incidents involving the chlorine used in the water treatment process.

“We didn’t have a lot of our response plan formalized,” LeBlanc said. “Now, we’ve completely redone our chlorine emergency response and feel better prepared to handle any emergency.”

While the most important benefit of START participation is a safer workplace, improved safety can also lead to lower workers’ compensation rates. In addition, work sites that earn START certification are exempt from routine visits by L&I compliance officers.

For more information on START, visit www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/AtoZ/START or call 360-902-5735.

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