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Occupational safety sector shines spotlight on Rock Creek contractor
Photos and Story by Katherine Miller
June 3, 2015
The corporate safety manager at a key construction project at PCC Rock Creek Campus is featured this month in one of the state’s leading industry newsletters thanks to her employer’s outstanding safety program.
Demetra Star of Fortis Construction is interviewed in the latest issue of “Oregon Health and Safety Resource,” which is published every other month by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA).
Star has been with Fortis for eight years and has played an integral role in the $63 million in improvements at Rock Creek Campus that are being funded by the 2008 voter-approved bond measure.
In March, Fortis won a Safety Committee Award at the Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health Conference (GOSH). In her interview with Oregon OSHA, Star credits communication and a culture of transparency for her employer’s strong record.
“The cornerstone of our safety program is creating a self-propagating safety culture of an injury-free environment. We encourage leadership through action, a personal commitment across all individuals on a project, accountability, as well as free and open lines of communication between our subcontractors, our crews, and their supervisors. Fortis foremen and superintendents fully embrace the responsibility of creating that strong safety culture. They set the tone for a project.”
Star later added that “The PCC project is definitely one of (the) most outstanding sites” for Fortis’ safety program. The bond-funded improvements at Rock Creek are currently focused on Building 5, which is the most prominent building on campus and the hub of student life and activity. In summer 2014, 22,000 square feet of the structure was demolished and construction begun on a 62,000-square-foot addition, leaving the original gymnasium intact. When the addition is completed in January 2016 it will house the campus bookstore, expanded food services, study areas, student resource space, a student government area, office space for faculty, and labs for health and wellness programs.
Rock Creek Campus, open since 1976, accommodates almost 26,000 students annually and sits in the heart of Oregon’s “Silicon Forest” and also amid some of the state’s most productive farm land. The bond-funded improvements include new classrooms and enhanced student services that are helping to meet the growing educational and workforce training needs of both Washington and Columbia counties.
Oregon OSHA is part of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In 1971, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 became part of national labor law. Two years later, Oregon passed its own occupational safety and health legislation, the Oregon Safe Employment Act, which authorized Oregon OSHA to enforce the state’s workplace safety and health rules.
PCC’s 2008 voter-approved $374 million bond program is increasing opportunities for residents to access quality, affordable higher education close to where they live and work. Additional classrooms, updated equipment and technology, and advanced workforce training programs are helping to pave the way for future employment options. For more information, visit www.pcc.edu/about/bond/about.