EKU Earns KEMI Destiny Award for Workplace Safety for Fifth Consecutive Year

Published on December 14, 2023

By Sarah Bashford

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) earned the Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI) Destiny Award for workplace safety for the fifth consecutive year. EKU is one of 25 recipients across the commonwealth to be recognized for its commitment to workplace safety with the Destiny Award. 

“Consistently receiving the KEMI Destiny Award over the years is another testament to EKU being an Employer of Choice,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “With several recent updates across campus, our teams ensure that campus safety is a top priority for our employees, students and the greater Richmond community. As one of only 25 OSHA training centers in the United States, EKU will continue to expand workplace safety and seek out ways to keep our campus community safe.” 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an 8.9% increase in fatal work injuries in 2021 in the United States. Workplace injuries can be prevented, which is why KEMI recognizes efforts made by employers in promoting awareness concerning workplace injuries and illness. 

According to KEMI’s website, “KEMI is the largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Kentucky, providing coverage to more than 20,000 policyholders in all 120 counties of the state.” KEMI presents the Destiny Awards annually to the policyholders that best exemplify the motto, “Control your own destiny.” The award recognizes an organization’s ability to manage a formal safety program, provide on-site training and regular safety meetings for its employees and display an ongoing commitment to safety from all levels throughout the organization. 

“Safety is the central theme that informs all decisions made at the university, from operations to new builds to renovations. We embrace a holistic approach of workplace safety in all we do,” said Bryan Makinen, EKU associate vice president for facilities management and safety. “The years dedicated to workplace safety have paid off by significantly reducing our annual workers’ compensation premium by 80%.” 

EKU employs nearly 2,500 full- and part-time faculty and staff, making it one of the largest employers in the Richmond area. The university has implemented several injury reduction strategies to prioritize workplace safety for its employees, including: 

  • Weekly toolbox safety talks with EKU’s most vulnerable populations.

  • Increased enterprise risk management activities.

  • Utilization of third-party firms with more expertise and resources to safely complete high-risk work.

  • Implementation of an accident investigation program.

  • Dedication of human resources to manage critical safety programs and initiatives.

  • Comprehensive assessments of campus buildings for environmental hazards.

  • Management of OSHA recordable injuries and a return-to-work program.

  • New employee onboard safety training in partnership with human resources.

  • Implementation of critical safety policies and procedures such as motor vehicle use, utility cart use and laboratory safety.

  • Communication of safety tips in the EKU Today platform to inform the campus community about safety topics that are applicable to personal and work life.

Additionally, EKU helps companies and organizations train their employees in workplace health and safety through the OSHA Training Institute Education Center (OTI Education Center). The OTI Education Center reported a 12% increase in students and a 28% increase in classes delivered in fiscal year 2023. The center has served over 1,330 students and delivered 109 classes.

Representatives from KEMI visited EKU on Thursday, Dec. 14, to present the award.

“Kentuckians are hardworking people who keep the economy running, and the best way to ensure workers remain on the job is with a focus on safety,” said KEMI President and CEO Jon Stewart. “We consider it a privilege to work closely with Kentucky employers who are committed to developing and maintaining a culture of workplace safety to protect employees and their families. The opportunity to recognize this distinguished group of 2023 Destiny Award winners is truly an honor.”