Maintaining a facility like the N.C. State Fairgrounds is quite the task. With over 300 acres, historic buildings and crowds most weekends attending events or the flea market and the annual N.C. State Fair in October, the fairgrounds is a busy place. A new position at the N.C. State Fair looks to see that jobs being done to maintain the fairgrounds and get ready for these events are done safely.
Michael Amberg started work earlier this year as the N.C. State Fair’s first safety officer. His job is to ensure other workers on the fairgrounds are doing their jobs safely. He is responsible for ensuring compliance with occupational health and safety guidelines and plays a crucial role in promoting a safe working environment by advising on safety measures, conducting risk assessments, and enforcing preventative measures.
“My main goal is to have zero accidents and injuries to employees and visitors,” said Amberg. “The fairgrounds has had reduced staffing levels since the Covid pandemic and there has been tremendous stepping up to the plate for those working at the fairgrounds to get jobs done. This means that employees are using more equipment, performing more tasks and that could open the door for more possibility for injury.”
Amberg’s job duties include writing new procedures, implementing safety standards for tasks and maintaining compliance with all safety regulations. He is also working to get to know every employee and establish a positive working relationship with them.
He has already completed a job safety analysis for jobs at the fairgrounds. The check list covers what job are you doing, what equipment will be used and how can this be done safely. “It helps get employees thinking about safety,” said Amberg. “Getting a job safety checklist for fairgrounds’ tasks was one of many crucial goals for me. Our workers use a variety of equipment to perform tasks such as chainsaws, mowers, tractors, street cleaners and more. Having a JSA is important for any job but extra important when your job might require you to move from one physical task to another.”
Amberg started with the N.C. Department of Agriculture as a standards inspector in February of 2021. His primary role was inspecting gas pumps in Wake County. Prior to that he worked in an oil refinery in New Jersey for 18 years. He also has firefighting training and is a hazmat responder.
“My goal is to make our workers think about safety before every job,” said Amberg. “If we take a minute to think out the job before doing it then accidents may be able to be avoided. One of his current projects is working with language consultants at N.C. State University to help translate safety documents and hold trainings. “The fairgrounds has a diverse staff and I want them to be able to read and understand safety documents,” he said.
Amberg also has a role in preparing for large events at the fairgrounds like the annual N.C. State Fair in October. These events can offer a challenge for workers because of the increased amount of people on the grounds. “There is a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes during a large event,” he said. “We are developing plans for workers that address awareness of traffic patterns, where you can drive and can’t drive and other things that may arise during an event. We are also looking at vendor safety, including propane tanks and electrical use. I want to improve communication among everyone on the grounds and create a safe experience for guests and workers.”
Amberg is looking forward to the N.C. State Fair. “I have two kids of my own, one is a graduate of UNC Charlotte and the other is a sophomore at UNC Wilmington. I also just became a grandad to Grayson. When my kids were growing up we loved to go the fair with them. I love watching people having fun at the fair and I also enjoy a funnel cake.” He lives with his wife in Apex and in his free time enjoys boating and fishing on Jordan Lake.