By Louie Graves
An atmosphere of looking out for each other helped the Nashville Tyson Foods plant reach an elite award for safety last Wednesday, June 29.
For the second time in less than four months, officials from the Arkansas Department of Labor gathered at a safety celebration at the plant to recognize the safety effort of management and employees. The award was for completion of two million manhours without an accident.
At the end of a barbecue luncheon cooked and served by local 4-H club members, and a long list of drawings for grills and flatscreen television sets, the deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Labor presented a plaque to the safety committee.
Before the luncheon, Tyson complex manager Paul Britt told the News-Leader that the safety record was earned by employee effort. “We look out for each other. We are blessed.”
Britt noted that Tyson had more than 2,000 employees contributing more than 45,000 manhours of labor each week, and they work around potentially hazardous equipment.
He told the employees gathered in the plant cafeteria that it was much better to give away television sets and grills, and to enjoy barbeque together, rather than to send flowers or visit a co-worker in the hospital.
Local dignitaries present included Mayor Billy Ray Jones, County Judge Kevin Smith and Arkansas Senator Larry Teague. Those three were also present in mid-March when the plant received its Million Manhour Safety Award. All of the state labor officials were also present then, and this time they remarked how good it was to return to the same plant for the bigger award.
Plant manager Mike Hanson had the visitors draw names of television and grill winners from a large envelope. Announcement of the names drew laud applause from the employees’ friends.
In making his remarks, Deputy Director Hudson said that “Routines can get you killed,” and he emphasized that distractions and familiarity can lead to accidents.
“You’re on your way to three,” he said, referring to a three million manhour safety award.