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Safety training officer Corinna Kupelwieser. Photo by Pierce Hodges/Mt. Hood Meadows

After dropping their injury rate to its lowest level in more than a decade, Mt. Hood Meadows and Training Manager Corinna Kupelwieser were recognized as leaders in workplace safety and health at the 2015 Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) Conference Wednesday.

A panel of industry professionals judged the awards, honoring contributions to the field of workplace safety and health. The categories included outstanding employers, individuals, and associations.

Meadows received an Employer Award for lowering its injury rate significantly.

“In my almost 20 years of safety consulting, the immediate improvement realized by the concentrated effort to reduce injuries [at Meadows] is among the most impressive I’ve ever witnessed,” stated the nominator, SAIF, Meadows' insurance carrier.

Meadows has put time and resources into improving the safety culture at the resort, led by Training Manager Corinna Kupelwieser. Kupelwieser was hired when injuries and associated costs were increasing. Workers were being injured in slips and falls, and injuries out on the hill including knee injuries, collisions, and injuries while assisting guests. To tackle the problem, Kupelwieser created custom training programs and relied on data to engage supervisors and employees.

Slips and falls dropped by 70 percent the year after she started, and they were eliminated by the second year of the Walk Like a Penguin Safety Program Kupelwieser led. Meadows went from having more injuries than average in the snow sports industry to having one of the lowest injury rates in the industry.

Kupelwieser received a Safety and Health Professional Award for her efforts. “Responding to these challenges requires creativity, tenacity, and most of all, courage,” said Kupelwieser’s nominator Scott Clark, a SAIF Corporation safety consultant. “Corinna has risen to the challenge on all counts.”

Kupelwieser’s work was recently recognized by the National Ski Areas Association as a “Best Employer Education Program,” and she has presented to others in the ski industry trying to achieve similar results. She’s also an active member in the American Society of Safety Engineers Columbia-Willamette Chapter, helping solicit and direct funding for students and volunteers on a GOSH Conference committee.

Clark said Kupelwieser’s passion for safety and injury prevention is inspirational and her programs are among the best in the country. “I’ve seen companies flounder for years with lackluster safety performance until that one person steps up to the plate to drive change,” he said. “Corinna is that one person.”

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA), a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, partners with the Columbia-Willamette Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers to sponsor the conference.

The winners this year are:

Association Awards

Central Oregon Safety Association

SafeBuild Alliance

Employer Awards

City of Hillsboro

Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort

Purdy Brush

R&H Construction

Safety Committee Awards

Fortis Construction, Inc.

Qorvo, formerly TriQuint

Safety and Health Advocate (Team)

TriMet Bus Operators Continuous Improvement Team

Huntair Target Zero Team

Safety and Health Advocate (Individual)

Cathy Erickson, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Dan Johnson, Skanska

Judy West, Clean Water Services

Safety and Health Professional Awards

Corinna Kupelwieser, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort

Peter Kimbrel, Orenco Systems, Inc.

More information about the conference is on the GOSH website, www.oregongosh.com.