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Forest Park company wins industry safety award

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

For the fourth consecutive year, the local Turpin, Inc., Horizontal Boring company was honored by the Georgia Utility Contractors Association for its commitment to safety. Recently, the company became the first recipient of the association's Circle of Excellence Award.

The Forest Park-based contracting company received the award last month at the association's annual Hard Hat Safety Award Gala at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in Atlanta. During the three previous years, Turpin has been a recipient of the association's coveted Hard Hat Safety Award.

Turpin bores tunnels underground for gas lines, water mains, power lines, and other utilities. It narrowly missed out on a Hard Hat Safety Award this year due to stiff competition, said Vikki McReynolds, executive director of the contractor's association. Due to the company's continual commitment to safety, however, Turpin was honored with the association's newest award.

"The underground trench industry is a dangerous, highly regulated industry," said McReynolds. "Every job site is different, so you have to rethink your safety after every job site. We wanted to reward these guys [to] whom safety is really a culture for them.

"They [Turpin, Inc.] have an aggressive safety program," McReynolds added. "This a company that went above and beyond what anybody is expected to do."

While the company does boring projects across the metro area, Turpin recently completed a 370-foot-long bore in Forest Park for a Clayton County Water Authority sewer main project near Old Dixie Highway. The company is currently relocating water mains under Interstate 75 as part of the I-75/Ga. Highway 54 interchange-widening project.

Keith Turpin, vice president of Turpin, Inc., Horizontal Boring, said that boring requires workers to excavate holes and push long steel pipes through the ground. Navigating underground, around power lines, gas lines, and fiber-optic cables, workers face the dangers of explosions, electrocution, cave-ins and being crushed by heavy machinery, he said.

According to Turpin, to improve company safety, steel trench boxes are used to protect workers from cave-ins, and workers are regularly sent to safety training seminars at the expense of the company. He said the company also conducts weekly safety meetings, as well as "tool box talks" at every new work site to identify possible hazards, such as loose soil and nearby utilities.

"We just want to provide a good environment for people to grow," said Turpin. "There is no boring job that is worth telling somebody's family that they aren't here anymore because of bad decision-making. We train our labor force properly ... we send our workers to classes so they can determine what kind of soil they are dealing with. We use trench boxes to ensure the safety of our men."

Turpin said his company, which has been in the boring business since 2000, did not have any accidents last year.

McReynolds also applauded Turpin, Inc., for promoting safety throughout the industry. She said the company has gone through the trouble of making other contracting companies in the state aware of new safety regulations.

"For them, safety is not just about themselves," McReynolds said. "If they go down the road and see somebody digging incorrectly, they are going to stop. That helps the industry as a whole. They go out of their way to help other companies realize how important safety is and in the long run, that is going to save you money."