Perry’s city workers were recognized and rewarded last week for their success in reducing workplace injuries with an Employee Appreciation Day banquet. Numerous certificates of achievement were awarded at the Wednesday event, which also included a number of workshops and lectures on workplace safety and risk avoidance, tempering the festive mood of the day with the awareness that job safety is an ongoing effort and never a completed task.

The City of Perry has significantly lowered the rate of on-the-job injuries to its employees over the last seven years. The city now pays about $62,000 annually in workers’ compensation insurance premiums for its employees, a drop of more than $70,000 from its 2006 high, when the city was threatened with loss of coverage.

Recommendations from the safety committee formed by the city to study the problem led to a big turnaround in injury numbers. largely due to changes to the methods of litter pickup and the arming of Perry’s police officers with stun guns.

"We continually work to advance the cause of safety among city workers," said Matt Gilmore, Perry Water Works employee and member of the safety committee. "Our success deserves recognition," he said.

In September the Perry City Council gave $1,000 to the safety committee to hold a Safety and Employee Appreciation Day. Gilmore said at the time the Safety Day would mark Perry’s success in reducing the injury rate to city workers.

Jeff Hovey, director of risk services for the Iowa Municipalities Workers’ Compensation Association (IMWCA), which underwrites cities’ workers’ compensation insurance, said the IMWCA uses Perry as an example of a remarkable turnaround from high to low injury rates.

"Where you’re at is the result of hard, continuous effort," Hovey said, "and it’s seen in the significant drop in premiums from last year to this."

Representatives of all the city’s departments were on hand for the Employee Appreciation banquet, which will now be held annually.