Athol receives $10,000 grant for Public Works’ employee safety

Athol Town Hall.

Athol Town Hall. FILE PHOTO

Staff Report

Published: 03-08-2024 5:00 PM

ATHOL — The town has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA), the town’s property and casualty insurance provider, to fund safety and risk management activities and equipment.

According to a press release, Athol used the funds to purchase a new trench box safety system to be used by Department of Public Works (DPW) employees entering confined spaces for maintenance projects. The new trench box system creates a protective area for staff to work in, on, or around infrastructure during excavations. The use of trench boxes helps stabilize soil around the worksite to prevent cave-ins that could potentially cause safety risk and injury.

“We pride ourselves on utilizing grant funds to improve operations and maximize safety in the workplace,” said Jennifer Shaw, Athol’s environmental compliance and asset manager. “Utilization of trench boxes is especially important during seasons when soils tend to have a greater saturation level of water due to melting snow or lengthy periods of rain, as these conditions can lead to unstable soil conditions and added risk to our workers.”

Athol DPW Superintendent Dick Kilhart noted that the new trench box system and safety manuals developed to go with it have further created a safer working environment for staff.

“We appreciate how MIIA and the town can work together on projects such as this to help keep our employees safe,” he said.

For the 2024 fiscal year, MIIA awarded $1 million to fund over 150 grant requests from members for public safety activities and equipment. Municipalities were able to procure equipment to aid in property loss prevention, such as infrared cameras and moisture sensors, and to enhance cyber security efforts with assessments, training, and software solutions, among other initiatives.

“MIIA commends Athol for its efforts to mitigate risk, protect property and people, and prevent financial losses,” said MIIA Executive Vice President Stan Corcoran. “Through our grant program, we’re proud to partner with our members to identify common areas where we typically see insurance claims and provide solutions that lead to effectively mitigating these losses.”

The Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association is the non-profit insurance arm of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. For more information, visit https://www.emiia.org/andwww.mma.org.

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