During Tuesday’s special meeting of the Pike County Fiscal Court, officials introduced a recent hire that, Pike County Judge-Executive Ray Jones said, will “help move Pike County government into the 21st century,” as well as oversee something the court has not had in some time — a safety program.

William Spears, a Pike County resident and certified Occupational Safety and Health instructor, was recently hired by the PCFC to be the county’s new safety director. The court announced last month that an increased effort is needed to improve the safety of its workers, following the tragic death of county worker Danny Taylor in May.

“I saw Judge Jones make a statement ... they were going to start a safety program here, and I thought that I’d like to be a part of that,” Spears said. “I took a chance, came down and just knocked on Judge’s office door where I actually got to see him (Jones) and Judge (Reggie) Hickman, and now here I am.”

Spears, who worked for 40 years in the coal mining industry, 25 of which he spent serving as a safety director, decided that despite the declining coal industry, he wasn’t ready to retire.

“I decided I wasn’t ready to retire, so I went to Eastern (Kentucky University) and got authorized as an OSHA instructor,” he said. “I also got authorized as a certified safety specialist and also public sector safety.”

According to Spears, the court had already begun implementing its safety program by purchasing some needed equipment, as well as planning classes for employees, which as of Tuesday’s meeting, four of the six classes had been completed.

“This program will be on-going,” Spears said. “We’re going to center it towards the best practices because for every job, there’s a safest way to do that job, and that’s what we’re going to pursue and accomplish.”

Spears also commended the court for its commitment to the safety and well-being of its workers.

Jones said there isn’t many people with the qualifications that Spears has and that hopefully he will play a role in protecting one of the county’s greatest assets — its workers.

“I think the members of this court, including myself, found it inexcusable that there was no safety program of any kind, shape, form or fashion,” Jones said. “The men and women employed by the Pike County Fiscal Court are a tremendous asset to the county.”

Jones said that the jobs the workers do can be dangerous, with at least three being killed in workplace incidents over the years.

“Our goal is to make sure that never happens again,” he said.

In the wake of Taylor’s death in May, Jones announced an acceleration of goals toward which the new administration was already working to improve safety for county workers.

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