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Staircase company's steps to safety earn state award

May 13, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Duvinage Corp. of Hagerstown, a manufacturer of custom spiral staircases, was honored Wednesday by a state government agency for developing long-term health and safety programs for employees.

James D. Fielder Jr., secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, presented the state's first Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program award to the company during a short ceremony at the business Wednesday morning.

The award is for a small employer - fewer than 250 employees at the work site and 500 employees corporatewide - who has worked with Maryland Occupational Safety and Health to develop long-term health and safety program for its workers. By winning the award, the company will be exempt from regular inspections for one year, Fielder said.

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The award provides a way for the state to encourage companies to voluntarily improve workplace safety, Fielder said.

Fielder praised the company for the improvements, which were made voluntarily.

"This is a monumental occasion for Duvinage," Chief Executive Officer William Sanders said. "I think it is a great tribute."

Sanders said the company employees deserve the praise,.

Founded in 1895, Duvinage, an employee-owned business, is the oldest manufacturer of custom spiral staircases in the country. Staircases made by the company are in the White House, the National Gallery of Art and other prestigious locations.

The company, working with MOSH, put together a 32-item list of improvements, Sanders said. They included rewiring sections of the plant, installing safety harnesses and giving employees protective devices, he said.

Sanders became the company's chief executive officer in February 2002. Soon after, as part of what he termed "a corporate comeback," the company began making the improvements.

One of the hardest things about being in management is knowing that if an employee was injured or killed, he would have to notify the family, Sanders said. He wanted to avoid needing to make that call by making the workplace safer, he said.

The company has 34 employees, he said.

Duvinage was honored on March 3 at the annual Washington County Business Awards banquet, winning the Made in Washington County Award for producing or assembling products in the county.

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