Health dept. employees given extra incentive to reduce air pollution

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jan 03, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Health took a state initiative a step further than any other department in order to clean up dirty air.

Many state employees are already taking advantage of a program that provides them with free public transportation. The Department of Health employs 900, and 675 workers already have the free passes.

A program implemented by Department director David Patton gives employees another incentive that seems to be enough to change some habits. They're giving time.

"We're giving employees one hour of administrative leave time on days when there are mandatory action alerts," said DOH public information officer Tom Hudachko.

Mandatory action days are pre-determined by Utah's Division of Air Quality, part of the Department of Environmental Quality.

Braden Ainsworth, an employee who works on anti-smoking efforts, says he never rode the train to work before the program started about two weeks ago, but he has ridden it several days since.

"I thought it would take longer to get here than it really does, so when I actually had the incentive to try it out, I realized that it really is a good option and it made more sense to use it more often," said Ainsworth.

The Department has no data yet for the fledgling program, but Fox 13 talked with two employees who have used the passes, and Ainsworth says he sees several co-workers on his rides to and from the office.