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Posted on: November 18, 2021

Facility Maintenance Superintendent recognized for commitment to safety

Facility Maintenance Superintendent Gary Hargens

SPEARFISH, SD Facility Maintenance Superintendent Gary Hargens was recognized with a City of Spearfish Award for Safety Excellence  on November 17.

The award, presented during the City’s first Safety Stand-Down Day, was in recognition of Hargens’ “commitment to safety and enhancing the safety culture” for the organization.

Hargens has served on the City’s Safety Committee for more than two years. 

“He has been responsible for procuring PPE (personal protective equipment) for all City staff, he took it upon himself to send out a weekly safety tip to employees, and he is regularly researching safety articles and trends to bring to the City,” Safety Coordinator Tyler Ehnes said, adding Hargens has also worked diligently to resolve items on the City’s master hazard log. “This has no doubt resulted in safer working conditions and has prevented injuries to the staff and public.

As part of the recognition, Hargens was awarded 100 safety points, which are part of the overall safety program that has been implemented using a six-pronged approach: Safety training, safety inspections, safety committee, risk mitigation, accident/incident reporting, and safety rewards.

The Safety Stand-Down Day included speakers discussing topics such as workplace stress and fatigue; ergonomics/prevention of musculoskeletal injuries; risk assessments; and safety culture/organizational change. A safety culture is an organizational culture that places a high level of importance on safety beliefs, values, and attitudes. In addition to the benefits to employees in terms staying safe and going home each day with a good quality of life, a strong safety culture benefits worker confidence and retention, organizational behavior, and productivity, as well as reduces the likelihood of accidents, injuries, and their related costs in the workplace. 

Since implementing the program in 2019, the City has seen a reduction in worker’s compensation (WC) claims, resulting in a savings of more than $78,000 in WC premiums, Ehnes said. The City has also seen a major shift in the safety culture of the organization and personal responsibility towards safety, which has resulted in a much improved loss ratio (a ratio of WC premiums paid versus claims paid out). An acceptable loss ratio is 60 percent, as recommended by the South Dakota Municipal League WC Fund. In 2019 and 2020, the City’s loss ratio was 9 percent and 4 percent, respectively.   

The safety manual explains, “The City of Spearfish’s most valuable assets are the employees whose efforts have enabled us to achieve the level of success we enjoy today. The safety and wellbeing of every employee is the most important element in protecting that asset. Consequently, the City of Spearfish is committed to equipping employees to perform their assigned tasks safely.

Facility Maintenance Superintendent Gary Hargens

Photo caption: Facility Maintenance Superintendent Gary Hargens was recognized with a City of Spearfish Award for Safety Excellence. Photo courtesy City of Spearfish