That safety focused event, which was run in Florida in August, is sponsored by the US Poultry & Egg Association and Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Agricultural Technology Research Program.
This year a record-setting 230 chicken and turkey facilities were recognized, including 48 feed mills, for their safety records set and performances throughout the year. Of those recognized, 122 facilities and 26 feed mills merited the association’s highest level of recognition – the award of distinction.
“This is the seventh year that our Millsboro Feed Mill and the second year that the Westover Feed Mill achieved recognition based on their safety results and the evaluation of our safety programs,” said John Ward, director of safety and health with Mountaire Farms, the sixth-largest poultry producer in the US.
“We will continue to provide education, training, awareness, recognition and follow-up to support our safety culture," he told us.
To be considered for the awards, companies have to submit injury statistics for a three-year period along with a written application evaluated by a group of academics and safety experts.
Focusing on safety in the feed mill
Mountaire Farms created a safety specialist position within its leadership team last year to reinforce the idea that safety is taken seriously at the company and that commitment to safety practices “starts at the top,” said Ward.
The role involves overseeing safety at the group's feed mills and grain storage facilities on the East Coast. The company will recruit someone for a similar role at its facilities in North Carolina, said Ward.
“Mountaire believes we can achieve ‘safe production’ every day, and that all accidents are preventable,” he said.
Employees have training on safety before they start work in any of the company’s feed mills and they also get monthly training, thereafter, in that regard, he said.
“Our training department goes to each feed mill on a monthly basis to facilitate discussion around topics such as confined space, fire prevention, fall protection, hot work, bloodborne pathogens and other safety related topics.”
Best practice in relation to safety at its mills includes locking out machinery and checking that power has been isolated before work is done on equipment, the operators also ensure that dust levels are kept to a minimum, to eliminate dust explosion risk.
“Everyone at the mills wears high visibility garments as an outer layer, as a practical and visual reminder that their safety is our priority, in addition to the standard hard hat and steel toes that is the norm in our industry,” said Ward.