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Expo includes forklift rodeo

A Greenlee employee maneuvers a forklift through an obstacle course Thursday in the company’s parking lot during the Greenlee Safety and Health Expo in Genoa. EMILY OLSON | emolson@daily-chronicle.com
A Greenlee employee maneuvers a forklift through an obstacle course Thursday in the company’s parking lot during the Greenlee Safety and Health Expo in Genoa. EMILY OLSON | emolson@daily-chronicle.com

Katie Sullivan cheered on her fellow employees from the sidelines Thursday as they guided forklifts backward and forward between cones in the Greenlee parking lot. This was a forklift rodeo. The goal was to follow the course as accurately and quickly as possible. Penalties were marked if drivers failed to buckle their seat belt or honk their horn at a certain location, or if they brushed the pedestrian - a cone with a hat on - with their forklift. “It's a driving test, just like in a car,” Greenlee Plant Manager Dave Hilt said. Thursday's rodeo, aimed at recertifying the company's forklift drivers, was part of the Genoa-based manufacturing company's first Safety and Health Expo. Greenlee, which has about 200 employees, manufactures tools for electrical contractors. The expo featured 20 booths related to health, wellness and safety, as well as fire extinguisher demos, an appearance by a Genoa K-9 unit and a picnic. “We want to get wellness and safety in the forefront of our employees' minds,” event committee member Jennifer Javorski said. One booth offered on-site testing of cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Beyond encouraging safety and wellness, the day celebrated the company's 2-year stretch without an accident that resulted in an employee needing to take time off. “We think that's a big accomplishment,” committee member Nina Stasinopoulos said. As vendors packed up their booths, the forklift rodeo continued in the Greenlee parking lot. Employees hoping to be recertified wove through the cones with the final incentive in mind: The trophies were awarded to the top three times. “They even have a lovely forklift on top,” Christy Fillers, who was monitoring the course, said of the trophies. Helen Dubovic says she rarely drives the forklift anymore, but was preparing to be recertified anyway. “I just hope to not embarrass myself,” she said before breezing through the course.

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