CHAMPAIGN — The director of the Illinois Department of Labor called Obiter Research "second to none in the safety of workers" as he presented an award Wednesday to the Champaign-based specialty-chemical maker.
Labor Director Joseph Costigan said Obiter Research was the 27th company in Illinois to qualify for an award from the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, known as SHARP.
That program — an initiative of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration — honors businesses with exemplary safety and health programs.
To qualify for a SHARP award, a company must maintain a low injury and illness record and have a safety and health management program in place.
Costigan said Obiter Research has "a perfect safety record" with zero reportable injuries and zero days lost due to injury.
"It's rare for a company to have your kind of commitment to safety," Costigan told Obiter's employees and guests.
Obiter founder William Boulanger said his company asked regulators for guidance on health and safety, seeking input in case there were "things we haven't thought of."
"You're going to put us out of business with this kind of attitude," said Cheryl Neff, manager of the labor department's Safety Inspection & Education Division. "Unfortunately, this isn't the norm."
Obiter Research makes custom compounds for the pharmaceutical, agrichemical and biotechnology industries as well as for government and academic research institutes.
Its facility at 2809 Gemini Court, C, uses low-flow, low-turbulence fume hoods to ensure proper ventilation and geothermal technology to heat and cool the space.
Boulanger's brother, Chad Boulanger, is the company's president and CEO.
William Boulanger said the company employs about 12. He said Obiter had layoffs earlier this year because of a change in the workload, but he said hiring could begin again soon.