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Elizabeth City celebrates five years injury-free           

From left to right: Tim Black, facility manager; Rich Grzelewski, regional EHS manager; JT Howington, general manager; and Randy Deming, regional vice president.

GFL’s Elizabeth City, NC, solid waste collection facility reached an amazing milestone: they’ve gone five years without a personal injury. Not only that, over the past decade, they’ve only had one injury!

“I've been doing this for 25 years now and I've never seen a hauling site go five years without an injury, ever,” said Randy Deming, regional vice president.

To achieve five years injury-free is impressive because Elizabeth City operates residential, commercial and industrial lines of business and runs a recycling center. The facility operates 13 collection routes a day that serve residential and business customers, including farms, as well as the Outer Banks area of North Carolina, a popular tourist destination.

The facility’s manager, Tim Black, attributes the facility’s exemplary safety record to the conscientiousness of all employees from office staff to mechanics to drivers who bring their safety concerns to him as well as each other.

“I believe in being personable, being open, being available,” Black says. “I would say first and foremost it’s important to create a family atmosphere where everybody wants to be involved. If somebody sees something out on the road or in the yard or the landfill, they bring it to my attention.”

Black’s open-door policy builds connections with employees, contributing to a high employee retention rate and low turnover at the facility.

Jacob (JT) Howington, general manager based in Chesapeake, Virginia, who oversees Elizabeth City, says Black’s involvement in decision making is a contributing factor to the facility’s safety record.

“Tim is detail oriented and he gets involved with everything from safety meetings to operational issues,” Howington said. “He’s involved with every aspect of the business, and I think that's what really makes the difference.”

A special source of pride at the facility is the sign at the front gate which everyone entering or leaving the facility can see. It’s a visual reminder of how many days they’ve worked without an injury and emphasizes that safety is a number one priority for everyone.

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident,” said Richard Grzelewski, regional EHS manager. “It's a day-to-day thing. Safety is not just a number, it involves people. At Elizabeth City, they practice safety every minute, every hour, every day, to make sure everybody goes home safely.”

Congratulations to Facility Manager Tim Black and all of the staff at Elizabeth City!

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