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franklin county times

2 million hours and counting

By Staff
SAFETY IS NO. 1 n Employees of the Georgia-Pacific Group plant in Pennington, Ala., celebrated 2 million man-hours without an accident today. All workers received a special shirt commemorating the occasion like the one plant safety manager Bill Edwards, right, is shown presenting to Larry Roberts, left, and Joseph Lamar Long. Photo by Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
March 13, 2001
PENNINGTON, Ala. The 1,450 manufacturing employees of the Georgia-Pacific Group plant took time off this morning to celebrate a milestone.
As of 10:30 a.m., 2 million working hours had been logged at the plant without an accident that caused lost work time.
Paper products such as napkins, toilet paper and paper towels are made at the plant.
More than 1,600 people are employed at the plant, and 1,450 work with the equipment. The plant runs on a 24-7 schedule with three regular shifts and a swing shift. On average, 9,400 work hours are recorded each day.
To celebrate the occasion, each of the employees in the factory received a special shirt marking the 2 millionth hour. A special barbecue chicken lunch was served and each employee received a case of a product from the plant. "Our equipment is big and has lots of moving parts," Edwards said. "We have come to realize that accidents are rehearsed. People will commit the same unsafe act again and again everyday. Then one day, they aren't paying attention or they get tired, and then something happens."
The plant management has had each worker give a detailed account of what he does in writing. Management employees observe the work, commending safe workers and correcting potential problems.
New hirees are drug-tested and spend their first two weeks going through a training course which includes an emphasis on safety and safety awareness. A 60-day probation period follows.
Georgia-Pacific completed the purchase of Fort James Corp. in December 2000. The Pennington plant was a part of Fort James; before that, it was owned by James River Corp.
While Georgia-Pacific procedures have been incorporated into the running of the plant, workers are still producing the same product as before.
And when it came to safety, the Pennington plant was good match for Georgia-Pacific, which has recorded the lowest accident rates in the forest products industry nationwide for five consecutive years.
Georgia-Pacific is headquartered in downtown Atlanta.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.