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Updated: April 26, 2021 manufacturing excellence awards

Manufacturing Awards: Darcy Cook helped manufacturers stay open and safe

Photo | Courtesy of Darcy Cook

Darcy Cook, president and owner of Safety Trainers, was working as a physical therapist in the late 1990s when her father suggested she help her brothers, two firefighters in Auburn who ran a side business facilitating CPR and first aid training classes.

Cook wasn’t so sure right away, but agreed to help on a part-time basis. Things went well for a few years.

“Then, 9/11 happened, and our business took a completely different model,” Cook said.

Disaster preparedness moved from an abstract concept to a concrete necessity, and companies were racing to jump on board. Cook left health care and stopped practicing physical therapy in 2002, focusing instead on helping to transition the company into an Occupational Health & Safety Administration compliance business.

Safety Trainers now works with companies across 11 industries, including as many as 225 manufacturers around New England, to develop safety plans, help with OSHA compliance and implement emergency action plans, among other tools aimed at making workplaces safe.

“We want everyone to go home with all their fingers and toes at the end of the day,” Cook said.

The two brothers she started the company with are in the process of wrapping up their careers, but her younger brother, Joe Ceccarelli, who has a background in construction, joined Safety Trainers along the way and remains the company’s director of OSHA compliance. That collaboration is particularly helpful because, Cook said, while she knows the ins and outs of safety regulations, Ceccarelli has the real-world experience.

He’s had his own fair share of run-ins with unsafe work environments, she said, including serious workplace injuries due to companies providing inadequate training.

Now, the brother-sister duo, in conjunction with the six other employees at Safety Trainers, work to ensure other workers don’t endure the same fate. And, from the other side of things, they work to make sure businesses can stay open when faced with unprecedented challenges, like the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the course of the last year, Cook and her team have worked to help develop company control plans, communicate rapidly-changed pandemic-related regulations to their clients and helped those businesses, including manufacturers, keep their doors open. They devised a formal training program to teach businesses how to be safe in the face of the pandemic, how to comply with regulatory bodies and how to navigate any complaints filed against them with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The results, she said, have been great. Clients reported they not only managed to stay open under Safety Trainers’ guidance, but they retained employees and maintained productivity. It’s a model she says her company plans to hold on to in a post-coronavirus world.

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