Canfield School District Wins Kovach Safety Award
HOWLAND, Ohio – The Canfield Local School District was recognized for its dedication to safety for its students, staff and faculty with the Joan Kovach Safety Leadership Award, presented during the Mahoning Valley Safety Council’s luncheon Wednesday.
“The year of Parkland sent shockwaves through the schools,” says Alex Geordan, superintendent of Canfield Local Schools, referencing the February shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. “We continue to try to address safety in the school system. We not only have staff we work with, we have community and interested folks visiting our schools everyday and 2,900 students we have to educate everyday and keep safe.”
Geordan said the support of the community and other local entities is critical to maintaining a sound, safe school system. Among the measures he’s most proud of this year is a bill — largely written by Canfield students — now before the Ohio General Assembly that calls for more resources devoted to schools to help with young people’s emotional issues. “We’re very committed to it,” he says.
About 200 attended the luncheon at Leo’s Ristorante in Howland. The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber sponsors the annual luncheon and this year honored 128 companies and organizations that have made strides in improving safety in the workplace.
Michelle Francisco, safety program manager at the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, said that honors and events such as these empower both employees and employers to introduce various strategies and programs to improve safety.
“Most of the safety leaders in this room will tell you that it’s not their efforts alone that allow them to reach these milestones,” Francisco said. “It’s everyone’s contribution, it’s everyone’s responsibility.”
The BWC’s Ohio Safety Council program oversees 83 such councils across the state, Francisco says. These councils provide important data related to accidents and workplace safety, and honor those companies and organizations that have made significant improvements on their safety records.
So far, the effort has paid off, Francisco says. “We are experiencing the lowest number of claims to the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation today than we have in history,” she says. “As a result, premium costs are declining for Ohio employers. We do credit programs like this and employers who are proactive and who make an investment in their safety.”
Sam Boak, president of Boak & Sons Inc., an Austintown residential and commercial roofing contractor and past winner of the Joan Kovach award, presented the luncheon’s keynote address. During the address, he underscored the importance of safety and preparation by recounting the heroics of three Boak & Sons employees who rescued a passenger from a burning vehicle three years ago while they were roofing the landmark Austin Cabin on Raccoon Road.
The crew were able to break the back window with a thick tree branch and save the passenger but were unfortunately unable to rescue the driver of the vehicle. “They couldn’t get that driver out, but they saved a person’s life,” he said, holding the very branch that broke the window.
A year later, the same crew was working on a job in Salem when one of them collapsed in the parking lot. Team member Chris Denham performed CPR on the employee, which provided enough time for an ambulance to arrive. Regrettably, the employee died at the hospital several hours later, but the fast action by Denham gave the employee’s family enough time to get to the hospital before he died.
“Sometimes we don’t know when we’re going to be called on to help somebody, sometimes we don’t know how we’ll be called on to help somebody,” Boak said. “Someone in this room may save someone’s life. We all have to go back and teach all of our employees, everyday, because we never know.”
Pictured: Claudia Kovach, left, and Bureau of Workers Compensation safety manager Michelle Francisco, right, presented Canfield school superintendent Alex Geordan with the Joan Kovach Safety Leadership Award.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.