An emphasis on workplace safety has resulted in Wayne Farms Pendergrass Fresh Facility exceeding 3 million hours with no lost-time work injuries. The facility has remained injury-free since October 2017, a testimony to plant leadership, robust training programs and employee involvement, according to Pendergrass Complex Manager and long-time Wayne Farms employee Ron Rogers. “Accidents don’t just happen—every investigation shows they have a cause. So from top to bottom, we focus on people being tuned in to the work environment and eliminating accidents by avoiding risks.”
Lost time accidents are the bane of any food manufacturing facility, and Wayne Farms Pendergrass is no exception. Producing millions of chickens each year represents about 40,000 weekly labor hours. With approximately 1,200 employees and facilities ranging from plant production and hatchery operations to more than 130 local farms across northeast Georgia, the potential for accidents encompasses everything from manufacturing to transportation. Aside from the human toll from injury, lost time can’t be recovered and those costs go right to the bottom line in the form of medical bills, worker’s compensation claims and the ever-increasing cost of health care coverage for employees.
Corporate and complex safety managers, working directly with supervisors and line employees, developed an ongoing program of awareness that ultimately led to 75 straight weeks without a reportable accident. “You get to 3 million hours one hour and one employee at a time,” said Rogers.
“Engaging our workforce through training, workplace awareness and constant emphasis was the key—they know it benefits everyone here and they take it seriously.”
Wayne Farms’ Corporate Safety Zero-Accident Culture program has infused a “never-ending push for safer job performance right down to the individual,” said Senior Director Reggie McLee, who directs Wayne Farms safety programs across the company. “Programs help guide things, but people like we have in our Pendergrass facility make it happen,” noted McLee.