Great Southern Wood Receives Safety Honor

10/10/2007

ABBEVILLE, ALA. - It’s easy to talk about providing a safe and healthy environment for employees. At Great Southern Wood Preserving’s Abbeville, Ala. plant, however, it’s more than talk.

Safe State, a program administered by the University of Alabama for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has awarded Great Southern Wood a prestigious honor. The company was awarded a Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) certificate of excellence.

The company received this recognition from Dr. Bill Weems, Director of the Division of Environmental and Industrial Programs, in a ceremony held at the plant on October 2nd. Dr. Weems presented the production team in Abbeville a certificate and OSHA flag recognizing the company’s exemplary safety and health program achievement.

“It is a huge honor,” said General Manager Chuck Dickert. “It is something that our production team has really worked for. I’m proud of them, and they should be proud of themselves. This isn’t something that happened overnight. It is something they had to work for, and today we see the fruits of that labor.”

Dickert also credited the company’s Director of Human Resources, Wanda Moody, for her leadership in forming the company’s Safety Education Committee (SEC). The SEC is made up of employees from all of Great Southern’s seven locations representing all areas of the company including production, trucking, mechanics and office personnel. Through monthly conference calls, committee members at each location are given the opportunity to discuss safety issues and solicit feedback from their peers at other locations for potential solutions.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the SEC played a huge role in our ability to accomplish this goal,” continued Dickert. “The items they discuss in their conference calls and the shared best practices that come out of those discussions have really made a difference for us here. The Abbeville plant’s representatives, Marion Reed and Darren Sanchez, have really done a fantastic job representing us on this committee.”

Safe State is available to inspect companies when requested. Experts in the field review seven major elements. They are: Hazard anticipation and detection; Hazard prevention and control; Planning and evaluation; Administration and supervision; Safety and health training; Management leadership; Employee participation.

“This is a huge honor for our Abbeville plant,” said Jimmy Rane, President and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc. “To be among thirteen other companies in the entire state of Alabama to have been awarded this honor is extraordinary! I would like to challenge the team here in Abbeville to continue to raise the bar and all the other plants to strive to achieve these same levels of accomplishments. It’s up to each and every one of us to watch each other’s backs – to point out a potential problem before an injury occurs,” Rane continued. “When a teammate is injured, it impacts all of us.”

Receiving the certificate of excellence means Great Southern Wood has corrected any hazards identified during consultations, has a lost workday incidence rate lower than the industry’s average and has a mechanism in place to identify any future problems that could arise.

“This recognition is the result of a lot of hard work,” said Rane. “But it’s important that every one of us, from the top down, make a commitment to each other that this award ceremony doesn’t signify the end of this program. Instead, we need to think of this as a kick-off celebration. We’ve done a lot of work to get to this point, and now we need to make sure we continue to live these changes and make them a part of our company culture. We’re family after all, and family watches out for family.”

Great Southern Wood is the number one producer of pressure treated pine in the nation and operates seven full-service, state-of-the-art treating facilities across the South. In addition to its plant in Abbeville, Great Southern has plants in Mobile, Ala.; Tuscumbia, Ala.; Conyers, Ga.; Jesup, Ga.; Sumter County, Fla. and Columbus, Tx. Perhaps best known for producing YellaWood® brand pressure treated pine, Great Southern Wood provides a wide variety of pressure treated building products to building supply centers across the Southern United States.

For more information on the Safe State program, visit Alabama Safe State online at http://alabamasafestate.ua.edu.