Thorco holds employee celebration

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Thorco Industries of Cassville celebrated three years without a lost-time accident on Sept. 28.

"This is a huge achievement for the Cassville plant. Be very proud of yourselves," said Perry Akerson, Thorco president. "Thorco thanks you, and I thank you. Keep up the great work."

In 2000, the Cassville Thorco plant had 40 lost-time and restrictive duty accidents. Over the last three years, the plant has recorded no lost-time and very few restrictive duty accidents.

"It tickles me to see you for this purpose again," said Benny Ratterree, Cassville Thorco plant manager. "You don't know what this means to me.

"I want to congratulate you all for the last three years," said Ratterree. "This record is unheard of at Thorco. It is unheard of in this industry pretty much."

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

"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."

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

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

A team of employees are appointed to the safety committee at each Thorco plant. The committee is in charge of routine plant safety inspections. Cassville Thorco plant safety committee members include: Marc Kraft, Vorene Adams, Sherry Scruggs, Theresa Mahurin, Travis Medley, Chantel Oberg, Mike Piatt and Charles Rayburn.

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

"Over the last seven years we have reached a better safety record each year until this year," said Ratterree. "Every year we have progressed better in our safety record, but we got worse this year.

"We have had more recordable accidents this year than last year," said Ratterree. "We need to stay away from recordable accidents to stay away from lost-time accidents."

This year, the Cassville Thorco plant has recorded five restrictive duty accidents, which is the same number of recorded accidents in 2005.

"We have already recorded five accidents, and we still have three months left in the year," said Ratterree. "If we are doing this for a steak dinner, we are doing it for the wrong reason. We need to be doing this to keep people healthy."

Although Ratterree was disappointed with the number of restrictive duty accidents this year, he shared some positive news with Cassville's Thorco employees.

"Out of the five recorded accidents we have had, not a single one was due to activation of a machine," said Ratterree. "That means every single accident was from human error, which we can change.

"We can't get complacent in our safety record," said Ratterree. "It can go away in a heartbeat. Don't think I don't appreciate all that you do. I just want you to continue to get better."

All recordable accidents involved employees who have been with the company for more than one year, said Ratterree.

"That tells me we are doing a great job of training our new people," said Ratterree. "We just need to take care of ourselves. We want to keep everyone as healthy when they go home as they were when they got to work."

In honor of their safety achievement, Ratterree informed the Cassville Thorco plant employees that they would each receive paid time off for their participation in the three-year record.

Employees who have worked at the Cassville Thorco plant for over a year will receive four hours of paid time off, and employees who have worked at the plant for over two years will receive eight hours of paid time off.

Cassville Thorco employees were also treated to steak dinners from Duparri's of Cassville.

Accident rates are reported to each plant on a monthly basis, promoting friendly competition among Thorco plant employees. This year, the Nevada and Butler Thorco plants celebrated one year with no lost-time accidents. The Lamar Thorco plant has reached 112 working days without a lost-time accident.

The Cassville Thorco plant has worked 1,099 days without a lost-time accident.

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