The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 2, 2013

Seminar targets work safety

Dave Sutor
dsutor@tribdem.com

— Creating a safe and healthy workplace environment can involve simple things, such as providing employees with comfortable, supportive footwear, to understanding how complex socio-economic and political issues impact business.

On Tuesday, individuals from area companies gathered inside downtown Johnstown’s Pasquerilla Conference Center to learn about those types of varied subjects during the 11th annual Alleghenies Regional Safety Conference, an event hosted by Johnstown Area Regional Industries and Cambria/Somerset County Safety Consortium.

Attendees participated in several workshops, while also getting the opportunity to discuss products and programs with vendors.

“The safety conference is for our businesses to have a local venue to gain information on health and safety issues,” said Debi Balog, JARI’s workforce development director.

“You can be in any industry, so we have a real diverse audience. Our main purpose is to provide educational workshops for individuals who are responsible for health and safety within their organizations.”

Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan and Thomas Owens, a member of the county’s Special Emergency Response Team and Johnstown Police Department, presented the keynote address.

They discussed numerous subjects, including how a recent increase in drug activity has impacted Johnstown.

Earlier this summer, the Johnstown Crime and Violence Commission issued a report that described heroin as the common denominator between the city’s problems with housing, education, law enforcement and rehabilitation.

The committee made several recommendations, including mentioning the importance of individuals, organizations and businesses becoming actively involved in confronting the crime problem.

“It takes an entire community,” said Callihan. “We’re looking to form coalitions to assist the police. We are definitely outmanned here. We need help. It’s been great to see the revival of neighborhood watch programs throughout the city. I know Moxham and the West End (neighborhood groups) have really been stepping up their membership and helping out. We seek help from the business community. We encourage local landlords to share information and do thorough background checks.”

Owens added, “We’ve already got a lot of those partnerships, but we need more involved and to have more of a commitment from those other agencies to help here in the city of Johnstown.”

More than 20 organizations set up booths, including the American Red Cross, Paris Uniform Services, The Reschini Group, Windber Medical Center and Ener-Gel Insoles.

“It’s great,” said Ron Gresko, co-owner of Ener-Gel, which has provided American-made insoles to four National Football League teams, wounded warriors and businesses throughout the country. “When you talk about a safety conference, like this, they hit on a lot of different areas from safety clothing to different education.”

Melissa Cannada, Windber Medical Center laboratory outreach customer representative, added, “This is actually a very good event that they hold for businesses in the area.”



Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.