Focusing on safety

by Shane Whitaker
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“If your plant is not safe, then your plant is not running well at some level, in my opinion,” said Dee Farra, plant manager of the Tyson Mexican Original facility in Portland, IN.

Employee safety is a top priority for its parent company, Tyson Foods, Inc., Springdale, AR. Richard Irvin, Mexican Original complex manager, said that at corporate meetings, Donnie Smith, Tyson’s president and CEO, as well as Jim Lochner, COO, often start out by addressing this very issue.

The Portland plant received recognition as the second safest Tyson plant companywide, and it holds voluntary safety meetings every week with workers on each shift. “We review everything that happened, no matter how small, and how can we prevent those issues in the future,” Ms. Farra said.

Dwayne Davis, the Portland plant’s safety manager, leads these meetings and has contributed greatly to the plant’s clean record. “He is a great communicator and one of the first people I can remember that makes you want to stay awake and listen during these meetings,” Ms. Farra added.

Employees’ taking ownership for personal safety has created this successful record. “No one can make you safer than yourself,” she said. “It is an obligation for companies to provide a safe environment, but as a team member, it is your responsibility to point out things that may not have gotten noticed, to have a voice in the area that you are working in and to just watch each other’s back. I think we have grabbed on to that philosophy and really rolled with it.

 “Our goal is for every person to come to work and leave in the same condition every day,” Ms. Farra continued.

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