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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

Thorco plant celebrates big safety milestone

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Thorco Industries of Cassville celebrated two years without a lost-time accident on Sept. 30.

"This is a milestone for Thorco in Cassville," said Ken Howard, Thorco president. "You all need to be congratulated. This is unheard of for a plant to go two years without a lost-time accident."

In 2000, the Cassville Thorco plant had 40 lost-time and restrictive duty accidents. This year, the plant had only three restrictive duty and no lost-time accidents.

"The previous safety record was unacceptable," said Charles Willhite, Thorco safety coordinator. "Of the four plant locations this was the worst. It went from worst to first."

"This has been a huge change and challenge," said Howard. "The company has become more solid and right now Thorco is in the driver's seat."

The change was a joint effort by all employees, supervisory staff and maintenance staff, said Willhite.

"It was about setting goals and perseverence," said Perry Ankerson, Thorco director of manufacturing. "It was more of a cultural change than a physical change."

The Cassville Thorco plant concentrated on increasing employee involvement and participation by addressing employee concerns and deficiencies, said Willhite.

"When we had the people on board and had their involvement it was simple," said Ankerson.

Although Thorco purchased equipment to help in lifting, bending and material handling, the employees' habits and attitudes are what brought about the new record.

"It's not up to the machine," said Ankerson. "It's up to the individual. They need to think about things and decide when they need help. That's what they have accomplished."

"The maintenance team can provide devices, but it has to be the individuals that make it happen," said Ron St. Peter, retired director of manufacturing.

Ankerson said safety procedures did not change a lot in the last five years.

"We just put a focus and emphasis on the safety procedures," said Ankerson. "We created more awareness and went from accident investigation to accident prevention."

All Thorco plants maintain the same safety procedures, but the Cassville plant is by far the most successful, said Ankerson.

A team of employees are appointed to the safety committee at each Thorco plant. The committee is in charge of routine plant safety inspections. Safety violations are first discussed with Willhite. Later a safety meeting is held with all employees and each violation is discussed at length.

Previously, Willhite accompanied the Cassville Thorco plant safety committee on inspections. Recently, the plant's committee took control of the mandatory inspections.

"We wouldn't have been successful without the safety committee," said Willhite. "Their involvement and the extra effort of the maintenance staff helped collect deficiency information."

Safety Committee members at the Cassville plant include: Mike Piatt, Dorene Adims, Sissy Rayburn, Alice Haddock, Theresa Mahurin, Brenda Seufert and Chantel Oberg.

"What you have done is unlike any Thorco plant," said Howard. "You have taken the lead, and I know the others are following you."

"A few years ago this was just a dream," said Chuck Willard, retired human resources manager. "Now reality has set in, and you've done it. Give the other Thorco plants a challenge."

Accident rates are reported to each plant on a monthly basis, promoting friendly competition among Thorco plant employees.

"I want to take this time to tell each and every one of you thank you for letting me be a part of this," said Bennie Ratterree, Cassville Thorco plant manger, before the safety dinner. "We are now working on the third year and we have 51 weeks to go."

Last year, when Thorco celebrated one year without a lost-time accident, Thorco executives grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for employees.

This year, Cassville employees were treated to steak dinners from Duparri's of Cassville.

"Last year I was sitting beside a woman at Butler's one year safety party and she asked me what they would get if they made it to two years," said Ankerson. "She said, 'how about steak.' I said, 'okay, if you make it to two years, I'll buy you all steak.' That plant didn't make it, but this one did."

Ratterree, Cassville Thorco plant manager, made all arrangements for the special safety dinner.

Safety violations are first discussed with Willhite. Later a safety meeting is held with all employees and each violation is discussed at length.

Previously, Willhite accompanied the Cassville Thorco plant safety committee on inspections. Recently, the plant's committee took control of the mandatory inspections.

"We wouldn't have been successful without the safety committee," said Willhite. "Their involvement and the extra effort of the maintenance staff helped collect deficiency information."

Safety Committee members at the Cassville plant include: Mike Piatt, Dorene Adims, Sissy Rayburn, Alice Haddock, Theresa Mahurin, Brenda Seufert and Chantel Oberg.

"What you have done is unlike any Thorco plant," said Howard. "You have taken the lead, and I know the others are following you."

"A few years ago this was just a dream," said Chuck Willard, retired human re-sources manager. "Now reality has set in, and you've done it. Give the other Thorco plants a challenge."

Accident rates are reported to each plant on a monthly basis, promoting friendly competition among Thorco plant employees.

"I want to take this time to tell each and every one of you thank you for letting me be a part of this," said Bennie Ratterree, Cassville Thorco plant manger, before the safety dinner. "We are now working on the third year and we have 51 weeks to go."

Last year, when Thorco celebrated one year without a lost-time accident, Thorco executives grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for employees.

This year, Cassville employees were treated to steak dinners from Duparri's of Cassville.

"Last year I was sitting beside a woman at Butler's one year safety party and she asked me what they would get if they made it to two years," said Ankerson. "She said, 'how about steak.' I said, 'okay, if you make it to two years, I'll buy you all steak.' That plant didn't make it, but this one did."



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