Safety Recognition Program
The purpose of the Employee Safety Recognition Program is to foster a culture that values safety by recognizing employees who demonstrate exceptional dedication and leadership to improve District workplace safety and by enabling employees to recognize each other for their safe actions.
There are three types of safety recognition awards, Spot, Public Safety, and Star. Read about the Safety Recognition Program (PDF) for complete details. All awards should be given in a timely manner via the Safety Event Report Form, should include an explanation of the safety‐related act, and be given in front of co‐workers.
2019 Star Awards Q1
Charlie Wise recommended Ramon for a Spot Award that was elevated to a STAR Award by the District Safety Committee. Ramon noticed that there were no mph signs posted along the canal in the Clyde Check 7 to Check 8 area. For those unfamiliar with the area, there are some sharp turns and steep embankments that could result in a vehicle rollover if the driver were to misjudge the speed and go over the side. Ramon took it upon himself to have speed limit signs installed every 100 feet because he felt this was a safety issue. He brought this to his supervisor's attention and a few of the crew members felt that this was excellent work by Ramon.
2019 Public Safety Awards Q1
A container of oversized holiday ornaments fell from a City of Concord truck turning from Bisso Lane onto Concord Avenue. The ornaments spread across two of three lanes on Concord Avenue creating a hazard for oncoming traffic. Public Information Specialist, Justin engaged his hazard lights and used his vehicle to protect the city of Concord employee from oncoming traffic. He then assisted removing the hazards from the roadway. Justin was recommended for and received a Public Safety Award. Excellent work!
2019 Public Safety Awards Q2
Bill Hoskins and Jim Maniatis
Bill Hoskins and Jim Maniatis were recommended for Public Safety Awards. Recently, Bill and Jim were driving down Contra Costa Blvd to a jobsite when a large flatbed truck, parked at a gas station suddenly reversed, jumped the curb and hit a light pole. The light pole fell across the street, directly in front of Jim’s truck, blocking a lane. Jim was able to stop in time and did not cause any damage to himself or his vehicle. Bill was driving another truck behind Jim. Bill and Jim then proceeded to park their trucks on either side of the pole and help to sweep up the mess as local police arrived on site. Bill and Jim worked to ensure drivers were safe getting around the incident scene until they were relieved by police. What a great way to help others start their day. Nice work!
Mike Bartzi recommended Aaron Christensmith for a Public Safety Award. On a recent morning, two vehicles collided on N. Sixth Street. Aaron responded and established the appropriate temporary traffic control measures. Using warning lights and hand signals through the traffic incident area, in order to protect victims and other pedestrians at the site, he provided safe traffic flow until the Police department responded. A citizen called in to commend Aaron for his good deed and appreciation for his dedication to public safety!
Jason Schneider was nominated by Tracy Chilson for a public safety award. Recently, he found a backpack and fishing pole at the canal crossing at E Cypress Rd. He also noticed a truck parked in the area. No one was around, and he became concerned that someone had fallen in the canal. Jason contacted Tracy, but he had an extended response time from Concord. Jason took it upon himself to start looking for someone in the canal. He eventually located two teenagers about a mile upstream. He confirmed the items belonged to them and that they were okay. Jason told them that they were trespassing and not supposed to be fishing in the canal, explaining the dangers of the canal. Jason also remained with the teenagers until Tracy arrived and contacted their parents. Jason went above and beyond what was required, and his concern for the safety of others was apparent when he mentioned, despite the trespassing he was happy to see they were okay, because he’d feared the worst, that someone had fallen in the water.
Brandon Chalk awarded Mike Gargalikis with a Public Safety Award. Mike got called to a possible main leak at the intersection of Galindo at Clayton Road. He had to place the truck in the turn lane to direct traffic safely around them. The back of the truck was in the crosswalk blocking the pedestrian pathway. Mike noticed a woman walking up to the crosswalk with a seeing-eye dog. He approached the woman and informed her that he was with the Contra Costa Water District and offered to walk her around the work zone to the other side. The woman took his arm and he walked her safely to the other side of the street. This is an example of the crew’s dedication to safety and their constant awareness of their surroundings. Great job, Mike!
2019 Spot Awards Q1
Stan, in an effort to increase safety at the District’s treated water reservoirs volunteered to help the team conducting fall protection inspections at these sites. These inspections included detailed pictures and narratives of potential fall risks so that engineered solutions could be implemented to protect visitors at these sites from fall risk. This was a volunteer effort on his part, adding to his already busy work load as a Water Quality Inspector. Spot award was presented in December in a gathering of his peers and supervisors in the Water Quality Department (And we missed including this in an earlier newsletter – oops!). Great work Stan!
Joaquin was given a Spot Award for investigating a fire alarm that was sounding at ASC when he arrived to work in the morning. As one of the first employees to arrive to the site in the morning, he conducted a thorough investigation to determine if a fire or other building emergency was occurring. After determining it was mostly likely a false alarm, he made the proper notifications so the alarm issue could be addressed and employees could safely enter the building. What a safety-way to start your day! Good job Joaquin!
Adam Barnwell, Trevor Spady, Matt Dunn, Nic West, and John Riccabona
Adam, Trevor, Matt, Nic, and John received Spot Awards from Mike Bartzi for their teamwork and commitment to safety. While setting up traffic control on Cowell Road, which is a very busy road compounded by the rainy and cold conditions, they were very professional and took it upon themselves to watch each other’s back to make sure everyone stayed safe from oncoming traffic. They went above and beyond to set up extra cones and signs, for extra protection, without being told. They helped vehicles through the area so there was no traffic problems and accidents; overall their commitment to safety, teamwork and getting the job in a safe and efficient manner was impressive.
Jason received a Spot Award from Charlie Wise for his improvement in safety trainings with the traveling screen. The District has a piece of equipment known as the traveling screen downstream of check 7. The Water Tech 1’s are heavily involved with the unit, as they clear the debris away that is brought up and out of the canal. Part of their job is to report when the pumps or the water system is down, so repairs can be made. Currently, the traveling screen has been removed from the canal and was brought back to ASC to be thoroughly inspected and so that the service provider could show the maintenance staff a full run-down on the unit. Jason Schneider requested that he and the other Water Techs were involved with the training to make them more familiar with the operation and to fully understand all the safety elements that they should be aware of since they are around the unit the most. This was a great request by Jason!
Michelle received a Spot Award from Sonja Stanchina for several safety program efforts she has led, including teaching driver safety training, submitting and receiving a $1,000 safety grant from SDRMA for employee PPE, and initiating the two-day SDRMA Risk Assessment inspection, completed in May. This is an excellent example of her being proactive to ensure our workplace is free from safety hazards and giving the opportunity to be corrected before a problem arises. In another effort to mitigate hazards and resulting claims to the District, Michelle also recently met with O&M Supervisors, Canal Safety Guards, and Meter Readers to discuss the importance of identifying potentially dangerous conditions in the field and reporting them to O&M in a timely manner. Great safety teamwork by Michelle!
Charlie Wise awarded Saul, a new employee, with a Spot Award because he was recently told that if someone is continually working around the canal as the sun goes down, that they need to call for assistance and wait in a well-lit area until help arrives. Last week, Saul was working along the canal as dusk set in. Saul drove away from the canal, called Control for assistance and waited in a well-lit area until they arrived. Saul has only been with us for a few months but executed the procedure perfectly and we commend him for that. Way to take safety and working around the canal seriously!
2019 Spot Awards Q2
Rachel Murphy, Matt Underwood, Jason Schneider, Matt Holt, Tony Lindberg and Colton Rogers
Christine Helton, on behalf of the District Safety Committee, recommended a Spot Award for Rachel Murphy, Matt Underwood, Jason Schneider, Matt Holt, Tony Lindberg and Colton Rogers. In early 2016, the Near Miss Reporting Sub-Committee of the District Safety Committee, which became known as the Event Reporting Sub-Committee took all of the various reporting forms for the Safety Program and combined them into one Safety Event Report Form, which is still in use three years later. This streamlined and simplified a complicated process, making it easier for those wanting to report a safety issue or give someone recognition as well as for the people following up safety issues, near misses and the like. The reach of this form and the simplification approach has gone outside of the District, as reported by Sarah Bogner, as she presents to peers at professional events. Her presentations, including the use of the form, have been well-received by others in the safety community.
Adam Molinar and Greg Buncab gave Reggie Harris a Safety Spot award for the following: During a 414 construction project at the new CarMax, Reggie noticed that the contractor was applying a treatment to the soil that was blowing in the direction of the jobsite and to the public sidewalk. Reggie immediately stopped the job and called his supervisor, Adam, to report the situation. Adam immediately contacted Greg, our Environmental Compliance Officer, and they visited the site. As it turned out, the substance was a lime treatment being used on the soil to absorb moisture. Greg advised that the hazard was very minimal, but to use normal PPE standards. Adam appreciates Reggie not only recognizing the potential hazard but following up with his concern for the crew and the general public. Job well done!
John Ramirez recognized John Parsons with a Spot Award for identifying a safety hazard at the Randall-Bold WTP. John was inspecting the Control Room ceiling and discovered that the method of ceiling tile installation and the tile weight could pose a safety hazard to employees if the tiles were to fall for any reason. The 24” x 24” tiles are heavy and could cause a significant head or neck injury. John took immediate action, and he is coordinating the removal of the ceiling tiles and hardware. The vendor has already installed a new ceiling system that will not pose a hazard to staff. Thank you, John!
Steve Welch was nominated for a safety Spot Award by Mike Lehman for identifying a potential road hazard. During a jobsite visit to the Pittsburg Golf Course to watch the caisson installation into the canal, Steve observed a potential vehicle hazard. At MP 17.42, the road splits, allowing vehicles to drive up and park at the siphon or to continue along the access road. At the siphon, the road ends at a large drop-off just beyond the parking spot. It’s possible that an employee may not be able to see this drop-off in inclement weather or may miss the fork for the access road and not realize there is a hazard. East County staff immediately added reflective barricades, and all staff were notified and trained accordingly. Additionally, using the Caltrans guidelines for vehicle guardrails, an appropriate protective barrier for the siphon road was installed, and the rest of the canal is being surveyed for similar hazards.
Maria Baritell recommended Lauren Curiel for a Spot Award as the result of her recommendations for additional safety training for temporary clerical staff. Lauren recommended to her supervisor and to the Manager of Health and Safety that temporary clerical staff receive the same safety trainings that the positions they cover receive. Examples of these trainings include CPR/First Aid, Front Lobby Security Procedures, Fire Extinguisher/Prevention and Workplace Violence & Personal Safety. Lauren pointed out that temporary clerical staff may be exposed to the same risks that full-time staff are while on the job and providing safety training opportunities to them creates a safer environment for themselves and those they work with. This is a great example of keeping safety at the forefront and showing temporary staff how much they are valued at the District and that they are an important part of our safety culture.
2018 Star Awards
Star Awards for 2018 Q1
Daniel Sinosky and Manuel Goodall
Daniel and Manuel designed and built a tool to open the blow-off in a permit confined space so that they would not have to enter the space. By using this tool, a valve key extension, they were able to safely operate the valve and fully open and close the valve without having to enter the vault. Creating this tool has eliminated the need to expose employees to a confined space during this task.
Both Daniel and Manuel identified a safety problem that had been in existence for years and made the effort to implement a solution. The tool will benefit future crew members, providing a long term positive effect to the safety program.
Great job, Daniel and Manuel!
A contractor was working at a District excavation site to install rebar and pour a large concrete restrain block around a newly installed valve. The contractor was under the assumption that they could enter a partially shored excavation to form the rebar. The excavation was ten-feet deep. Dustin stopped the contractor and contacted his supervisor, Matt Underwood who then contacted engineering for clearance on a different approach to building and installing the rebar cage.
Dustin ensured that not only were our employees working under safe conditions, but the contractors were as well. This was a large project so it is commendable that Dustin made this effort. Our crews are under tremendous pressure to insure service is returned as soon as possible. The fact that Dustin kept safety as his top priority exemplifies the attitude and attentiveness we hope our employees exhibit. Sometimes doing the right thing is not an easy thing to do but Dustin bringing this to his supervisor’s attention kept all those involved safe. Recognizing efforts like this will hopefully make it easier for other employees to do in future similar situations.
Great job, Dustin!
The District has a natural gas fueled truck. Recently the District received a letter from PG&E regarding a fuel tank inspection for the vehicle. The vehicle was subsequently red-tagged until resolution was made on the inspection. The area supervisor contacted a vendor and set up to have the tank inspected. The need for inspection was discussed in passing between the Maintenance Manager and Deion. Deion, being familiar with these types of vehicles form his prior employer, took it upon himself to proactively go out and look at the vehicle. He noted that the tank life had expired. Deion then researched the issue, contacting people he knew that worked on these types of vehicles, and researched it through the internet to verify that indeed the tank was at the end of its life and the only option was replacement.
Deion was proactive in going outside of his area to look at a potential issue, getting involved and investigating something that could have been an issue. His leadership skills and initiative demonstrates excellent safety management. His continued efforts to go out of his way to ensure the safety of employees is applauded and recognized. Thank you, Deion, for your continued efforts and example of what the District strives for when it comes to safety.
In the course of exposing a water main leak, an excavation had reached more than 14 feet deep. Shoring had been installed in the excavation but became unsafe after leaking water undermined the stability of the shoring. Ryan stopped the job, ensured no employee entered the excavation, and notified his supervisor of the safety issue. Ryan’s critical evaluation of the excavation and willingness to speak up to stop the job kept employees safe and helped to communicate the crew’s safety concerns to supervisors and managers.
Using your stop work authority is not always an easy thing to do, and recognizing Ryan for using his authority sends a clear message to other employees that they will be supported. Shutting down a job is not an easy thing to do but Ryan recognized that the situation was unsafe. He made safety a priority for his crew.
Ryan’s actions are a clear example of what the District strives for to ensure the safety of its employees. Great job, Ryan!
Star Awards for 2018 Q2
Joe was getting ready to do a fence repair in the Check 3 area of Pittsburg when he noticed a string draped over the top of the 121KV high voltage lines. Joe and the rest of the crew stayed away from the line and Joe immediately contacted his Supervisor. The danger felt was that the unidentified string had the potential to be a conductive material that could produce a shock. PG&E was notified and responded immediately. Upon arrival PG&E reported that it was a kite string and not conductive material and removed it. Joe did a great job in identifying a potential danger. Without knowing the exact material of the string it presented a danger to Joe and the crew. Joe put the safety of the crew and himself first. This is the type of action that should be acknowledged and rewarded. Thank you Joe for your willingness to put safety above all else. A great example of what the District strives for to ensure the safety of its crews and staff. Way to go Joe!
Ken Swenson and Joe Wright
Ken Swenson and Joe Wright have been at the forefront of helping the District improve its Arc Flash safety, as well as meeting the associated regulations. Ken and Joe have taken on a lot of work with the project and in doing so have greatly improved workplace safety for all employees. Their attention to detail, patience with getting the rest of us up to speed, and commitment to the project are all commendable. This effort has far reaching effects and the way the two have conducted themselves is an example for all to strive towards.
Arc Flash is a short circuit in high voltage/current industrial equipment. The wires and equipment can vaporize, meaning they go from solid to vapor, expanding to 67,000 times their original size. This can cause shock waves that have a tremendous force; they can literally blow an employee off their feet, causing concussion, internal injuries, hearing loss, and injury from flying parts. It can cause shocks and electrocution. Arc Flash creates a large amount of heat that can cause burns, as well as a high intensity flash than cause severe damage to the eyes.
Regulations require that electrical equipment be labeled with PPE requirements and other conditions that need to be meet prior to performing work. Arc Flash involves an Electrical Engineering study, that looks at the time it takes for protection devices to activate, like breaker set points and fuse ratings. Arc Flash protection at the District has been a large undertaking. It has taken a significant amount of time and effort to remedy. Previously installed equipment was not designed with these hazards in mind or regulations in place. All sites with electrical equipment need to be evaluated, this included evaluating over 40 sites throughout the District. These safety efforts have been ongoing since 2013. This work involved initial training on the hazards and the newly enacted regulations, the initial RFP development, evaluating RFP’s, once the contract was awarded, then site visits to capture information, research to obtain missing or needed information, draft report reviews, labeling of equipment and now looking at mitigation issues. All this work has taken a significant amount of time and effort. Since project inception, Ken and Joe have been the Districts technical advisors, and go-to people whenever something was needed. The District would not have made the progress it has, without their ongoing efforts, continued dedication, and commitment to employee safety. There is still more work to be done, and it will be accomplished with the help of Ken and Joe at the forefront of Arc Flash safety compliance.
Fantastic work, Ken and Joe!
Star Awards for 2018 Q3
Brian Sweeney and Shane Tolosko
Recently both Brian and Shane were providing bottled water to our customers at a job site. While there, Brian and Shane happened across a private contractor working on a 7 foot deep private water main nearby without shoring protection. Brian and Shane immediately notified the supervisor and the contractor that they were in a dangerous excavation and should have shoring installed before continuing the job.
This is a great example of looking out for public safety. Both Brian and Shane addressed a potentially dangerous situation. Thank you for your commitment to safety. Great job!
Jill Suitos-Novak and Shane Pinto
The public recently alerted CCWD that there were three otters in the canal near the siphon structure that were trapped and possibly distressed. Jill and Shane responded and found a large group of the public gathered and concerned for the otters. After assessing the situation they implemented a safe and effective plan. They used climbing devices and rescue snares to coax the otters out of the canal. They were then snared and placed back in the canal so they could continue to swim upstream without any obstruction.
Jill and Shane took their time and acted safely and responsibly. They did an excellent job keeping themselves and the public safe while helping the trapped otters. A primary concern was public safety as there was fear that a member of the public may have tried the rescue attempt themselves.
Thank you Jill and Shane for keeping the public safe and one another! Great job!
Recently a report was received that a member of the public was possibly in trouble and in need of assistance at the Los Vaqueros watershed. Colton immediately notified the sheriff and in the meantime, went on his own to look for the person. It was unclear if the person in need had become injured on the trail, was lost, or if something else had happened but Colton was prepared to provide whatever assistance or aid was needed. Colton’s quick action resulted in the man being found quickly after the initial report.
His dedication to our customers and their safety was clearly demonstrated through Colton’s response to the initial report and coordination with the other responding agencies. Thank you for your assistance and for making a difference. This is a great show of safety, concern and dedication.
Congratulations Colton! Great job!
Carlos Butler, Shane Tolosko, Brian Brekelmans and Manuel Goodall
While installing a new fire service line in front of a senior apartment complex the crew helped several elderly citizens. A gentleman fell while walking and hit his head. Brian and Manuel helped to get him up and into a chair. Robert Wolverton walked around the complex looking for a family member. Upon speaking to the elderly gentleman they determined that his son was on his way. In the meantime the gentleman wanted to get up but Brian and Manuel kept him seated and calm as the gentleman was scared and confused. Additionally, a woman was trying to cross the street at the same time and both Shane and Carlos helped her to get where she needed to go. The entire crew took initiative to help those around them in need and also utilized their first aid training to keep a member of the public safe.
This is a great example of safety and concern by Carlos, Shane, Brian and Manuel. They were able to keep two seniors safe and also were able to use their training in first aid. Thank you gentlemen for setting such a great example of safety, concern and for making a difference for these two members of the public.
Congratulations! Great job!
John witnessed a driver lose control of their vehicle. The driver hit a light pole, taking the pole down. He stopped to help and the driver fled the scene. John secured the area to ensure the public would not be exposed to the danger of the live electrical wires and called the police. He stayed at the site to keep it secure and safe until the police showed up. He gave the police his report of what he saw including a picture of the vehicle that hit the pole.
Contra Costa Water District also received a thank you from the City of Concord Public Works Department regarding this incident. Their note read “So I had a guy from CCWD call us that he witnessed an accident where a lady took out a light pole and there was live wires exposed and on the ground. He made us aware before out our PD did-so I am not sure who this gentleman is but I would like to thank him! With no time to spare I call my traffic signals tech and they were dispatched right away to the scene. I don’t know who John is but I hope you can tell him how thankful we are for his prompt response in letting us know about a very real hazard!”
John did an great job in securing the scene, keeping the public safe, informing both the City of Concord and Concord Police Department. His quick thinking, communication with the proper authorities and keeping the public safe by identifying the danger and securing the scene is an excellent example of safety and concern.
Great job John!
Greg was returning to the Concord Yard on Highway 242 when he witnessed a vehicle’s tire bouncing across the northbound lane into the lane he was traveling, striking the vehicle in front of him. The vehicle was severely damage and the driver was injured. Greg safely stopped behind the damaged vehicle allowing for both himself and other drivers to administer first aid for the injured driver and to call 911. Greg remained at the scene with the injured driver making sure she remained calm until paramedics arrived.
Greg’s safe and calm approach was key in helping the driver of the vehicle. Thank you Greg for your example of commitment to safety for our customer’s and citizens. This is a great Samaritan act.
Sean Hartman and Steve Winniford
Sean and Steve improved the safety shower and eyewash stations at the Bollman Water Treatment Plant, which has led to similar improvements being planned at the other plants. In addition to Steve originally identifying that the showers at the plant needed to be evaluated, Steve and Sean coordinated a third-party audit of the entire plant to ensure all deficiencies were identified. After receiving some trouble getting traction on the project, both employees continued to elevate the issue and develop solutions to ensure the problems were adequately address with sufficient budget and staff time.
For implementation of the repairs, Sean and Steve rebuilt and added new eye wash stations at Bollman, fabricating units that are far more effective than the units they replaced. In some cases, this involved an entire replumbing of the safety shower source piping, which was undersized in several locations. While function is more important than form in this case, it also doesn’t hurt that the new eyewash stations are so well designed they not only work well, but they also look first class, too.
Star Awards for 2018 Q4
Jake showed exemplary leadership skills while acting as Supervisor trying to resolve the Marsh Creek Road leak. He made sure that a relief crew was called in to relieve the standby crew who had been working long hours and were tired and exhausted. While it is of utmost importance that our crews resolve leak issues, it is never to be done at the cost of their safety. Jake’s efforts ensured the safety of the standby crew, making sure that they did not continue on a job while exhausted and fatigued.
Thank you Jake for making safety a priority. Job well done!
Matt fabricated and installed gates in the Los Medanos Waste Way. This area has been problematic for years due to transients living in the tunnel, illegal drug use, using the tunnel to travel through, etc. There have also been numerous fires started in the area. All of these things have caused frustration for both Contra Costa Water and homeowners residing in the area. The design and ingenuity of the gates have kept the transients away. The gates would prevent possible drowning or injury should Contra Costa Water District were to need to open the waste way and there were transients or citizens present. No Trespassing signs and Potential Flooding signs have been posted on the gates, warning the public of the potential danger. The gates operate mechanically and open with the flow of water. There is a pin driven into the ground that keeps the gates closed and is operated by a cable that you can operate by hand. If the cable is cut, you still cannot get into the gates due to a secondary fail safe device that Matt created. It is a lock that is in a steel box.
Since installation, one of the homeowners witnessed a transient jumping the fence. When they saw the new gates, they went the other way. The gates are clearly a deterrent. The homeowner also commented on how pleased they were at how fast Contra Costa Water District responded to their complaint.
Matt went above and beyond to not only design but to also fabricate and install a gate system that will keep the public safe but has also brought relief to homeowners in the area who have suffered throughout the years. His commitment to safety is a great example of what the District strives for. Thank you Matt for your design, hard work and dedication. Fantastic job!