Marathon Catlettsburg Refining received a very prestigious recognition Monday for comprehensive safety programs implemented at its expansive facilities in Eastern Kentucky.
Marathon received a Voluntary Protection Partnership of Kentucky recognition, which is no small feat. The work to achieve the VPP status has literally been a decade in the making.
"Commitment from the company, commitment from the workforce and from government and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration all working together to try to achieve the highest standards of safety you can have in the state of Kentucky," said Tim Craft, the union health and safety representative at Marathon. Craft is also the president of USW Local #8719.
Marathon's General Manager of Refining Jay Richert said the company has worked for more than 10 years to meet the rigorous standards set forth through the VPP. '
"It is really about a culture change, a mindset shift,...moving towards a mindset of 'We can do everything safer. Every accident is preventable,'" Richert said.
On Monday morning Marathon held a large celebration for achieving the safety recognition. Gov. Matt Bevin praised Marathon, saying it is a shining corporate jewel in the Commonwealth and that there are only 14 sites in the state of Kentucky to receive the recognition. The Catlettsburg refining operation employs more than 700 people.
"It is about health and it is about safety," Bevin said. "It took more than 50 visits by members of our team over the years, site visits, and people from OSHA, federal, state and local...and OSHA recognizes you are the gold standard."
Ray Brooks is the Marathon Petroleum Corporation executive vice president for refining.
"It's all about continual improvement and continuing partnerships," Brooks said.
Craft said he's witnessed major safety upgrades at the plant over the years. He said during his career many years ago he lost a co-worker to a fatal workplace accident. He said that tragedy instilled in him the never-ending commitment to always put safety first at the workplace.
"It really doesn't hit home until you actually make that call," Craft said.
Craft said improvements in equipment, from glasses to gloves and tools, have made a huge difference over the years. In an emotional speech he asked the large crowd in attendance at the celebration what does the VPP award represent?
"We care," Craft said.