The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

August 1, 2013

Safety panel work brings protection, maybe savings

By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer

MERCER COUNTY — Pleased with the strides the county’s safety committee has made, Commissioner Chairman John Lechner said the moves will not only protect county employees, but may eventually lower worker’s compensation insurance rates.

A $5,000 grant obtained through the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania allowed for the purchase of new scaffolding used by county workers when maintaining and cleaning the county’s bridges. The grant also will pay for training for those working on the bridges to make sure they are using the new scaffolding properly. Rather than hanging over the side of the bridge to clean and inspect, the new equipment connects to the bridge and creates a walkway for workers.

Also, there have been enough automated external defibrillators donated to allow for easy access in most areas of the courthouse, but Lechner said he is hoping others could be donated so they can be placed in outlying buildings and offices. Additionally, more than 35 courthouse employees have been trained in CPR.

Next up on the safety list is the careful coordination of a fire drill, Lechner said.

“That’s something that hasn’t been done and we can’t just arbitrarily have a fire drill. Because of what’s going on in the courtrooms, we have to coordinate those efforts with each department,” he said.

“But it’s something that has to happen and will happen, once we work it out,” he said.

“I’m really encouraged by where we are at with the safety stuff. We are leaps and bounds ahead of where we have been. We’ve also started a wellness program for employees that helps with ways to improve lifestyles and hopefully improve their health. It’s a very active safety committee,” he said.

And along with improving things for the employees, county officials had some brief discussion at Wednesday’s work session about work that needs done on the building it owns across the street. While the first floor of the building at 127 N. Diamond St. houses a bank, the second floor is occupied by county offices. In the last several weeks, there have been problems with the air conditioning on the second floor, according to Chief Clerk Tim Hofius. With temperatures in the upper 70s during the day and 50s at night, it isn’t a big problem, but once hot weather returns, it’s something that will have be addressed quickly, Lechner said.

Additionally, the 25-year-old roof will soon need repairs and officials admitted they had “sticker shock” when they priced installation of an elevator allowing for easier access to the second floor.

Commissioner Matt McConnell said he thinks non-government entities have gotten elevators installed for less and would like “more research” into the idea.

The two also discussed problems with radio communications between various police and fire agencies, and considered a request by Jeffrey Gill, warden at the county jail, to purchase a larger transport van for times when prisoners must be taken to the hospital.

Commissioner Brian Beader was absent.