Jan. 16, 2004 – Hundreds of Hovensa workers were recognized on Thursday at the refinery's 2003 Safety Awards ceremony, but only one walked away with the keys to a new luxury sport utility vehicle — and that was by the luck of the draw.
Several drawings were held from drums containing the names of all employees who had no injuries last year, or over the last five years. The prizes included three vacation cruises and two 42-inch plasma TV sets, according to a Hovensa release.
"However, the prize that everyone was most interested in was the 2004 Cadillac Escalade," it stated, and the SUV winner was Sweeney Toussaint, a process operator in the company's operations department. A total of 959 Hovensa employees were eligible for this award by virtue of having had no injury at work in 2003.
Overall, 2003 was a good year for Hovensa safety-wise, the release stated.
Lawrence Kupfer, president and chief operating officer, announced that the company's recordable injury rate as measured by the U.S. Occupational and Safety Administration declined from 1.88 in 2002 to 0.93 in 2003. He noted that "this rate places Hovensa in the top quartile of U.S. refineries based on safety performance of their employees."
OSHA's recordable-injury rate documents the number of persons injured per 200,000 workers in the nation's oil refineries each year.
Jose Carpena, OSHA San Juan area director, was on hand for Thursday's program. He said that a recordable injury rate of less than 1.0 is something for the company to be proud of. He also commended Hovensa for providing incentives for employee safety. "Going home every day the same way you came to work is the best incentive that workers can have," he said. "But if you can go home in a Cadillac, that's even better."
Richard Smullen, Hovensa vice president for environmental health and safety, said the company hopes to reduce the incidence of injuries every further this year and will implement several new job safety-related programs, including seeking membership in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program.
Roy Harden, Hovensa safety, fire and health director, said the refinery's recordable injuries dropped from 35 in 1998 to 10 in 2003, with the recordable rate declining from 3.73 to last year's 0.93 over the same period.
Francine Lang, the V.I. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Division director, and Frederick Joseph, Steelworkers International Union sub-district director, also congratulated and company and its workers for their safety achievements.
Hovensa also holds quarterly safety recognition ceremonies in which employees with no injuries are eligible for drawings of $100 restaurant dining certificates. At the October ceremony, Smullen said that the refinery's injury-free record had moved it from No. 16 in 2002 to No. 4 in OSHA's national safety rankings.
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