The workers at the International Paper Shelbyville facility have accomplished a remarkable feat. The employees and management have managed to achieve a major safety milestone, by working 1 Million hours safely. Now everyone is waiting for the big celebration March 29th and 30th.

For those of you who may never have had the opportunity to walk around in that plant, you might not understand what a significant achievement that is. But, to those who have been inside and watched the many machines working, the many lift trucks operating and the many conveyor belts rolling, you would know how amazing 1 Million hours operating safely would mean.

Commensurate with this achievement, Shelbyville was recognized by the International Paper Foodservice Division for outstanding safety performance.

Tony Clarey is the Environmental, Health and Safety Coordinator and he can fully appreciate this feat as he works among all those machines, lift truck and conveyor belts on a daily basis.

“I believe we achieved this with cooperation,” said Clarey. “There are roughly a 1,000 employees, and management out on the floor, and I think this was a very cooperative effort between everyone.”

A team of employees and management form JETS, which stands for Joint Efforts Towards Safety and the members of JETS are constantly looking for ways to work more safely.

Donna Helms is a Senior JETS member and she feels the expansion of the safety teams has helped the plant reach this accomplishment.

“We used to only have one safety team, and now we have 28 safety teams, and that has helped out a lot,” said Helms. “There is one on every shift even night shift.”

Marla Braden is another member of JETS and she drives a lift truck, so she can look at the safety from that standpoint.

“We try to work together and communicate to everyone,” said Braden. “I am one of the drivers of the fork trucks, so we try to stop it (accidents) before it begins.”

Penny Riley has worked at that plant for 24 years and she was around the last time the plant achieved this goal of 1 Million hours safely. She feels this time the 1 Million hours safely means more.

“It was a lot harder this time because they are more picky about the accidents,” said Riley. “Where earlier OSHA (U.S. Department of Labor Occupational and Health Organization) was a lot different on the way they handled accidents.”

Another hourly employee John Heselton said another key part of this program is how well management is willing to listen and then act on safety issues.

“I believe management plays a big role in all this,” Heselton said. “I think there is a good flow of communication between employees and management,” said Heselton.

Luke Hardy is another member of JETS and he believes a very important part of the 1 Million hours safely is the ability to correct problems right away.

“If I see someone doing something that might lead to an accident, I let them know right away,” said Hardy. “You must let them know immediately because those minutes lost, might mean someone getting hurt before you can get back to that problem.”

Andrea Morrison said this is very important business, as no one wants to see anyone hurt.

“Part of this effort is making it personal, nobody wants to go home hurt, and nobody wants to see anybody hurt,” said Morrison. “We all want to walk out of here the same way we came in with all our fingers and toes, so keeping it personal helps everyone go home to their kids.”

Sheridan Trobaugh, another hourly member of JETS said listening was a very important part of the equation.

“Listening and communicating has been one of the biggest factors out here, that has increased dramatically over the three years,” said Trobaugh.

Karen Montgomery said the entire plant will receive a cookout and a new shirt as a reward for this achievement.

“We are going to have a cookout to celebrate this on all four shifts,” said Montgomery.

On March 29th and 30th, the plant will be celebrating this achievement by giving all employees a safety shirt and having a plant-wide cookout, where management will prepare a meal for the employees and serve them.

Human Resources Manager Myron Barnett said the cookout next week is IP’s way of saying thank you to all the employees.

“That is what it is all about,” said Barnett. “One of the things we have really worked hard at over the last couple of years is telling our wonderful employees thank you for the great job they do.”

Plant Manager Bob Eades said this achievement is incredible.

“We received an award for safety at the end of the year, and that was just for our safety achievements in 2005, and certainly we have now carried that over into 2006, and a million man hours is incredible,” Eades said. “I really think it is a testament to the employees that are working here. We have a lot of great employees in the plant who are very dedicated and if you challenge them to reach for a goal, they will do that.”

Eades went on to say the employees look to management to see if they will be consistent in their expectations and will support them.

“It starts with that, I think they have come to embrace that safety is number one.”

John McLeod, Assistant Plant Manager believes the idea of getting the employees involved and looking out for each other plays a vital role in this goal.

“A lot of times it is very difficult for people to step to somebody and say you shouldn’t be doing that, and I think the culture of our people now is they are getting that point, they are actually going out and stopping somebody from doing something that is unsafe,” said McLeod. “That is the difference, we have the whole group involved in keeping things safe.”

International Paper is the world’s largest paper and forest products company. Businesses include paper, packaging, and forest products. Headquarters in the United States in Memphis, TN, International Paper has operations in nearly 50 countries and exports its products to more than 130 nations.

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