Cargill’s distribution center in Mount Crawford VA is a hub of activity 24 hours a day, five days a week. The center distributes poultry and cooked meat products to customers coast-to-coast. Each day of operation, workers move about 4 million pounds of protein.
Facility employees and Cargill leaders are now celebrating more than 3 million hours without a lost-time accident.
“Cargill, more than ever, is committed to a culture of safety. In this industry, with the type of work that’s being done each day at our facilities, there are no excuses—safety and protecting our people must be at the forefront of our minds,” said John Niemann, president of Cargill’s turkey and cooked meats business. “Today, we celebrate a facility that embodies that mindset, and continually works to find ways to improve practices and safety programs, settling for nothing less than zero lost-time accidents.”
At the facility, more than 30 powered industrial trucks are moving at any given time, frequently elevating pallets, weighing 1,800 pounds, up to 28 feet. Employees are operating equipment in the distribution center’s 150,000 square feet of refrigerated space, often receiving 45 to 60 truckloads of product from processing facilities, then freezing, storing and shipping it out to customers within the same day. Approximately 400 million pounds of product is moved through this facility annually. During the 3 million hours without a lost-time injury, more than 3 billion pounds of product have been distributed.
“We have been able to address past incidents, and other, risks through our safety programs. We’ve installed protective barriers, added cameras to our trucks, introduced speed controls, safety lights, protective cages and bars,” said Larry James, environmental health and safety manager. “Most importantly, we have a strong education program to address situations and adapt our practices to mitigate the safety risks.”
The safety program also incorporates consistent coaching, new employee orientations specific to sharing best safety practices, and pre-job hazard analyses, where employees can look at the high risk jobs to identify and prevent hazards before they occur.
Cargill’s turkey and cooked meats business is based in Wichita KS, employing about 5,400 people in its 15 processing facilities, feed mills, hatcheries and its distribution center.
Facilities in Waco TX, Harrisonburg VA, Purdy MO, and Gentry and Springdale AR were recently recognized for outstanding safety performance by the Joint Industry Safety and Health Council at the 2016 National Safety Conference for the poultry industry.
In opening remarks at the National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry, Mr Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s Region IV administrator, discussed the current Poultry Processing Regional Emphasis Program. While choosing not to recognize poultry’s steady improvement in workplace safety over several decades, Petermeyer stated that poultry’s high incidence rates for serious injuries compared to all private industry and that increased scrutiny from workers’ rights groups such as Oxfam and the Southern Poverty Law Center prompted OSHA to develop this special emphasis on poultry. During a Q&A session, he fielded comments and questions from the attendees, who remarked that OSHA’s view is an inaccurate portrayal of safety within the poultry industry.
The 2016 National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry was a three-day event designed specifically for poultry facility and corporate safety personnel. A record 175-plus safety professionals attended the Conference, which was sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the Agriculture Technology Research Program at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Georgia Poultry Federation, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation.
Cargill has 150,000 employees in 70 countries who are committed to feeding the world in a responsible way, reducing environmental impact and improving the communities where they live and work. For more details, see www.Cargill.com.