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Fair focus is health and safety

March 31, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The yellow-colored section of polyethylene pipe with a 3-D smiley face on it seemed as out of place as it could be amid the other 56 display booths.

Performance Pipe maintenance technician Bryan Stallings said as much as he and another representative staffed their pipe manufacturing booth at the Health & Safety Fair held Wednesday by the C & O Canal National Historical Park at the Elks Lodge on Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown.

While it might have gained some extra business from its participation, Performance Pipe was not there to sell anything. A commercial venture mixed in with the likes of such service organizations as the American Red Cross and the Washington County Health Department, the Hagerstown-based company instead sought to let people in on a method it developed in the workplace to encourage employees to actively seek out, report and correct safety hazards.

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"You can take the process which we use and it can be integrated at your home, at work, wherever," Stallings said. "It just really makes you more aware of where you are."

In a sense, that was the key to the annual National Park Service event held for the first time this year in Hagerstown.

"The regional office is trying to reach out and trying to promote public safety," said C&O Canal Risk Manager Dale Petrucci, organizer of the event.

The fair started out as an annual safety reminder geared toward park service workers but has evolved to welcome park visitors and members of the general public. It is held annually at different locations in the region, and was coordinated last year by Catoctin Mountain Park staff.

For the public and park workers alike, Petrucci said: "We're always trying to make sure they have a good experience in the park and (that) they leave safely."

The same notion, he said, holds true for residents outside the parks, in their own homes, at shopping malls and other public places, or at work.

"Any setting, whether it be the park or at your own home, is full of hazards," he said. "The health fair has a little bit for (everyone)."

Exhibits were varied. A mortgage company was there, Petrucci said, to reduce the stress on homebuyers making what might be their most significant investment. Also represented were chiropractic and optical centers, members of the League for People with Disabilities, representatives from the Epilepsy Foundation of the Chesapeake Region and from the Fort Detrick Fire Department's HazMat unit.

Smithsburg resident Bob Roane said he had not expected to find such a diversity of exhibitors at an event he figured would be dominated by nonprofit organizations.

An avid fisherman and outdoorsman, Roane said he attended the event to pick up some information about Lyme disease.

"Just curiosity, to see what all they had," he said. "It's interesting."

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