Safety In Numbers
 
IDFA Recognizes Dairy Processors for Efforts to Maintain Safe Operations.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has honored a select group of dairy companies with its Dairy Industry Safety Recognition Awards and Achievement Certificates. This is the second year that IDFA has sponsored this program, which highlights the outstanding worker safety records of U.S. dairy companies. Awards were handed out at IDFA’s Plant Operations Conference in Chicago in late April.
Nominated operations were judged solely on specific data required annually by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on the facility’s Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses report (OSHA Form 300A).  The year’s award decisions were based on data from OSHA reports for the 2004 calendar year.
This year’s program was expanded to include categories for both processing facilities and trucking operations in the dairy industry. In addition to the 27 category award winners, IDFA recognized 17 processing and trucking operations with achievement certificates for achieving zero injury cases that resulted in lost time away from work.  
“We’ve had an extremely positive response from dairy companies to this program, demonstrating the commitment that the industry has shown toward worker safety,” said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs. “We congratulate all of the winners on their accomplishments.”    
Processing facilities were judged in four product categories: natural and processed cheese; dry, condensed and evaporated products; ice cream and frozen desserts; and fluid milk. Within each product category, IDFA accepted nominations for small, medium and large facilities that achieved the best overall safety performance rates based on the OSHA data. Trucking companies were scored on their OSHA summaries according to the type of location: short haul, long haul or mixed; awards were categorized for small and large facilities.  
IDFA will issue a call for nominations for the next Dairy Industry Safety Awards competition in early 2006.
Cheese Processing Operations
Small Facilities
Crowley Foods LLC
(Division of HP Hood LLC)
Bristol, Va.
The 98 employees at the 91,000-square-foot plant, built in 1963, make cottage cheese, sour cream, dips, baking buttermilk, smoothies, cup yogurt and tea. The Bristol facility has gone three years without a lost-time accident.
Employee safety is first priority at Bristol, says David Dorsey, division manager for Crowley Foods. “Striving to be the best has kept our employees safe at work,” he says. “We conduct five-minute safety meetings each week. We have an active safety council that meets each month with department heads and hourly employees. Safety inspections are done with feedback from the plant floor and council members.”
Additionally, employees have a buddy system and watch out for each other, older employees with the newer ones. “Good attitudes and a great team are the main catalysts in our achievement,” Dorsey says.
Medium Facilities
Leprino Foods Co.
Waverly, N.Y.
Leprino’s Waverly plant, acquired in 1978, was the company’s first production facility in the eastern United States. The first major expansion and renovation was completed in 1980, with subsequent construction in 1991 to install Quality Locked® Cheese (QLC) technology and 2002 to replace the whey processing department. The plant currently produces shredded and diced mozzarella and pizza cheese for manufacturers and foodservice, in addition to sweet whey for food processors.
More than five years ago, the plant started a program called Quality, Safety, Financial and You (QSFY). The program involves continually looking at overall processes using video. Every element involved is noted and reviewed for opportunities to make improvements. Using this technique, the Waverly plant quickly began seeing positive results in safety and plant operations.
Plant manager Neil Brown attributes the success to the employees. “Where we may have a number of safety programs in place, the core reason we were able to achieve this milestone was that each and every employee made a conscious decision each and every working day when they walked in the door that they were going to work in a safe manner,” Brown says. “The training is beneficial, the constant stressing of safe work habits by supervision is critical, and employees are looking out for each other and are willing to remind someone when they put themselves at risk.” 
Large Facilities
Leprino Foods Co.
Lemoore, Calif.
Leprino won in this level as well for its Lemoore East plant (the company has two plants in Lemoore, Calif.), acquired in 1986. Leprino completed a renovation of the Lemoore East plant in 1989, which increased production capacity and significantly increased the capacity to produce whey protein and lactose for export to the Far East. Conversion to QLC technology took place in 1991, with further expansions continuing to take advantage of Leprino’s technology leadership, producing QLC mozzarella, pizza cheese, protein and lactose for domestic and international use.
The Lemoore East plant effectively uses employee involvement teams (EITs) to complete safety projects. One EIT responds to employees’ ideas for safety improvement.  The team completes a problem analysis recognizing time, safety, productivity and sanitation in the process. The team then creates a plan for solving the problem and implements the plan. Another EIT, named “BSAFE,” was formed to address employees’ behaviors on the job in a non-confrontational manner. The team has been a major contributor toward reaching the plant’s safety goal identified as “Destination Zero.”
Last year, the team created a video called “B-Safe or B-Sorry,” in which employees reenacted at-risk behaviors that could potentially cause an injury. The film was a success, and the team is now creating monthly updates utilized at pre-shift meetings to emphasize safety on a regular and consistent basis.
Bob Delong, senior vice president for production operations, sees the safety initiatives as a long-term consistent objective. “Plant safety has been a major priority at Leprino Foods for over 20 years. Our incentive plans, performance expectations and management bonus programs all are designed to focus our attention on safety,” Delong says. “Over the past five years, the efforts of all Leprino Foods’ production employees have reduced our OSHA recordable ratio in half to a top tier rate of 1.93 [per 100 employees]. We are very proud of the workers at the Lemoore East and Waverly plants for the industry recognition their safety efforts have gained with these IDFA awards.”
Dry Processing Operations
Small Facilities
Foremost Farms USA
Preston, Minn.
Making safety a priority is rooted in Foremost Farms’ strategic plan, the cooperative report. “We have an increased focus on safety improvement and on instilling a ’safety culture’ within all employees at Foremost Farms,’ says Preston plant manager Bruce Snitker. “Everyone participates in monthly plant safety audits on a rotating basis and shares their findings at monthly meetings.”
The Preston drying plant was built in 1910, with many additions since then; the blending operation began in 1954. There are 20 employees at the Preston facility producing dry blends and whey protein concentrate. The plant produces bakery and cheese manufacturing ingredients targeted at everyone from large bakeries to small pizzerias, specialty bread shops and other businesses.
Ice Cream Processing Operations
Small Facilities
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream
Salt Lake City, Utah
The Dreyer’s Salt Lake Operations Center is one of seven plants operated by the frozen dessert giant. In the midst of a manufacturing expansion, the company obviously has kept safety a priority as it continues to grow and meet increasing demand for its ice cream products.
Dreyer’s began production at the plant in 1992. The facility offers more than 26,000 square feet of production area and 28,000 square feet of warehouse space, with an annual capacity of 10 million gallons. Some 55 production personnel turn out 638 SKUs of product, including ice cream, frozen yogurt and novelties in a variety of formats and nutritional profiles, serving high-altitude markets in the western United States.
Carvel Corp.
Commerce, Calif.
Tied with Dreyer’s in this category level is Carvel’s West Coast ice cream cake plant. “In 2004, Carvel experienced a 41 percent reduction in the number of incidents at all our manufacturing facilities compared against 2003, says Tim Shanley, vice president for manufacturing, research and development for Celebration Foods, Carvel’s grocery division.
The decline in the number of incidents also represents a 50 percent reduction in the cost of total claims. “This improvement is due to concentrated efforts to reinforce the compliance of our existent environmental, health and safety programs as well as the implementation of several new incentive programs,” Shanley says. “We have not only improved the safety record at our Commerce, California, plant but also at both our Jessup, Maryland, and Marlborough, Massachusetts, facilities. We take these programs to all levels of our business including our DSD route system.
Shanley says Carvel takes great pride in tits safety successes success. “This is truly a team victory for Carvel, one that could not have accomplished without the support of our all our associates and management team,” he says. “The company was founded by Tom Carvel, who had a single vision: to serve the best possible products with the best customer service. Today that vision remains the same, as we strive to realize this vision through a continuing focus on providing a safe and healthy working environment.”
Medium Facilities
Safeway Inc.
Bellevue, Wash.
“Our employees recognize the added value of being safe and working in a safe plant,” says Mark Olmsted, production supervisor at Safeway’s Bellevue Ice Cream Plant, which experienced only one medical OSHA incident in 2004.
The plant has daily meetings where safety issues and concerns are discussed and action plans are recorded. Incentive programs include scratch cards, weekly safety drawings and quarterly luncheons. “These incentives, along with everyone’s commitment to work safely, have resulted in a IFR [incident frequency rate] reduction from an average of 14 incidents per year to currently 1 incident per year,” Olmsted says.
Large Facilities
Friendly Ice Cream Corp.
Wilbraham, Mass.
Friendly’s began manufacturing operations in West Springfield, Mass., in the early 1940s and moved to Wilbraham in the early ’60s. The facility manufactures all of the ice cream and toppings for the company’s restaurants as well as all the pre-packaged containers sold in supermarkets and retail outlets. That includes packaged ice cream, sundae cups, cakes and rolls. The plant has grown over the years and produced nearly 18 million gallons of ice cream in the past year.    
With more than 150 employees on the job, safety is very important, says John Zomermaand, vice president of manufacturing. “We have a comprehensive and structured program. The program is designed to create a ‘safety culture,’” he says. “This means that every day, every employee lives the culture. It’s not just a program or just training.   And it’s not just inspections or just accident investigations. It’s the way everyone does their work on the production floor.”
A key strategy is investigating behaviors that could lead to an accident before they happen. The current safety program consists of ongoing safety training for all employees, a monthly safety inspection checklist and a safety committee that meets regularly to ensure all safety policies are being followed. 
Milk Processing Operations
Small Facilities
Wawa Inc.
Wawa, Pa.
Founded in 1902, Wawa opened its current plant in 1929. All 545 stores in the Wawa chain and 900 wholesale customers are serviced by this facility, which receives up to 500,000 gallons of milk per week and processes more than 50,000 gallons of beverages per day. With 216 employees throughout the manufacturing complex, Wawa produces more than 2.5 million bottles of beverages and 1.5 million paper half pints and 4-ouncers per week.
Chip Ford, Wawa’s dairy operations manager, says the company was honored by its IDFA safety award. “This record has not been achieved quickly but is rather a journey that never really concludes,” he says. “As a complex including our warehousing and transportation departments we had over 200 recordable injuries in 1999. Last year, we had 39, including none in the dairy for over two years. We currently have over 1,500 days without a lost-time incident and one in 1,200 days for recordable. We unfortunately had our first recordable in over two years in February of this year.”
Ford outlines some safety guidelines and lessons: seek professional assistance (Wawa partnered with a safety rewards program on a five-year plan, learning that safe practices are a condition of employment, and there are no excuses for not working safely); safety is a culture (all meetings begin with a “safety contact,” advice aimed at raising awareness and keeping safety in the forefront); getting things repaired and in good working order is actually the easiest part — the hard one is behavior; build safety into all processes and new installations; setting a goal of a 50 percent reduction in recordable injuries every year for the last five.
“The people believe that zero accidents are possible,” Ford says, noting that responsibility for the safety program has transferred from the consultants to management and associates. “While this is ongoing and never ends, when you see the behaviors change it is very satisfying. The people run the day-to-day safety meetings, functional safety groups and programs. This involvement helps to drive the change in behaviors so necessary for success.”
Safeway Inc.
Tempe, Ariz.
A sign above a mirror at Safeway’s Tempe Milk Plant reads, “Safety: A commitment to you, a commitment from you.” Here, at a plant that tied in its category level, safety starts at the top.
“Of all our records, all our accomplishments, safety is what we are most proud of,” says 23-year company veteran Dale Reed, a supervisor who heads the safety committee. “At the end of the day, we all go home safe.”
The plant has operated more than 700 consecutive days without a loss-time injury. Company officials say that’s because Safeway truly believes its most important asset is its associates, like George Mattson, who in more 30 years on the job has not had a loss-time injury. “There is awareness, both with the equipment and the environment, that shows our safety is a top priority of the management,” he says.
Plant manager Jason Glover understands safety starts at the top. Under his direction, safety training and open discussions are done on a near daily basis. “It is the constant focus, the commitment to educating that brought about this wonderful accomplishment,” says Adam Crook, an associate for three years.
That commitment will continue on at Safeway, which marks those 700 days as a milestone, not a finished goal.
Medium Facilities
Meadow Gold Dairy
Greeley, Colo.
With a history dating back to the original Greeley Creamery of 1914, Meadow Gold’s Greeley, Colo., plant was built in 1957. The 65,000-square-foot facility produces fluid milk, cottage cheese, sour cream and dips, ice milk mixes and juices for this unit of Dallas-based Dean Foods Co. General manager John Guerin heads up a team that includes plant manager Terry Rettele, human resources manager Dana Rutz and safety director Scott Sanders.
As of June 24, 2005, the Greeley plant has gone 792 days without a lost-workday accident. “All new employees are exposed to general safety expectations using a self-paced, PC-based PowerPoint program that was developed locally,” Guerin says. “All employees are exposed to annual safety training as well as specific safety training related to their job duties. Employees involved in near-miss or actual accidents must attend safety training on specific areas involved.
The Greeley plant uses a local company to provide pre-employment screening and assist with safety training. Representatives of this company attend monthly safety meetings to offer insight and review of safety initiatives. The company has developed training videos using employees in work situations to reflect correct and incorrect methods of job performance tasks, and has also reviewed job tasks in distribution, production and the office environment to train on correct ergonomic functions and conditions.
Monthly safety meetings involve mainly union employees with management attending and supporting. “We use a safety recognition program called Safety Jackpot that rewards employees with weekly scratch cards for those that have gone accident or incident free and have followed safe work practices,” Guerin says. “Management and supervisors distribute cards to each employee. Employees accumulate card points to redeem prizes from a catalog. Since implementing this program, we have seen a decrease in claims of over 50 percent and recordable injuries reduced by over 70 percent.”
Digital cameras are used to record and present safety issues for PC-based training and laminated safety posters. A dedicated safety phone number is used for employees call to report minor injuries not requiring medical attention and to log incidents for management review, response and awareness.
“We have an electronic communication station strategically positioned in the employee break room that is Internet live 24/7,” Guerin says. “This plasma screen keeps employees advised of current news, weather and safety related information.” Panels are updated every 30 seconds, keeping information fresh, current and informative. Management can update or customize screen information from any accessible Internet connection.
“We believe that our success in safety is a cultural change for all employees,” Guerin says. “We strive to create positive safety habits as a part of our everyday routines. We have moved from reacting after an accident to proactively identifying potential problems before they occur. We have also realized that our safety efforts do not end at work. Many times employees have discussed that our safety awareness at work has made a positive impact on their attitude towards safety away from work.” Such practices include wearing safety goggles, using hearing protection, using proper step stools instead of chairs and employing proper lifting procedures.
“Winning the IFDA award has been proudly accepted as a testament to our efforts to create a safe environment for our fellow employees,” Guerin says. “The award and our safety record support our ongoing safety program initiatives. It’s great to know that we can and are making a difference.”  
Large Facilities
HP Hood LLC
Winchester, Va.
Built in 2000 and expanded last year, Hood’s 400,000-square-foot ESL plant sits on an 80-acre site; its 350 employees work on six lines that make Hood’s Carb Countdown dairy beverage, along with Lactaid, NesQuik and Coffee Mate products. The recent expansion took the plant’s annual capacity up to 100 million gallons.
In 2001, Hood established its President’s Safety Awards as part of a company-wide initiative to recognize safety at its business units. Criteria focus primarily on the OSHA recordable incident rate.
Jasper Products LLC
Joplin, Mo.
Tied with Hood in this level is Jasper Products, a manufacturer of extended-shelf-life and aseptically packaged food and beverage products. The company’s primary business is contract manufacturing dairy and soy based beverages and nutritional beverages. Launched in September 2000, the plant currently occupies 580,000 square feet and has 12 filling lines of various package types including aseptic cartons and both ESL and aseptic plastic bottles.
Jasper Products attributes its success in injury reduction to dedicated employee involvement and a proactive safety culture. The company currently has recorded no lost time injuries over the last 1.8 million labor hours. The ultimate goal of every employee at Jasper Products is to eliminate all workplace injuries. The company maintains a full-time staff of 325 employees with additional growth anticipated in 2005 and 2006. m
Short-Haul Trucking Operations
Small Facilities
Crowley Foods LLC
(Division of HP Hood LLC)
Paterson, N.J.
Kemps LLC
Brainerd, Minn.
Large Facilities
HP Hood LLC
Taunton, Mass.
Long-Haul Trucking Operations 
Small Facilities
Tillamook County Creamery Association
Tillamook, Ore.
Crowley Foods LLC
(Division of HP Hood LLC)
Binghamton, N.Y.
Mixed Haulers Trucking Operations 
Small Facilities
Kemps LLC
Merrill, Wis.
Kemps LLC
Mason City, Iowa
Crowley Foods LLC
(Division of HP Hood LLC)
Plattsburgh, N.Y.
SouthWest Foods Dairy Drivers
Tyler, Texas
Large Facilities
Dean Transportation Inc.
Woodbury, Minn.
Kemps LLC
(Division of HP Hood LLC)
York, Pa.
Edy’s Grand Ice Cream
Richmond, Va.
Edy’s Grand Ice Cream
Charlotte, N.C.
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream
Salt Lake City, Utah
Certificate of Achievement Winners
Processing Plants
Verifine Dairy Products Co., Dean Foods, Sheboygan, Wis.
Fullerton Cultured Specialties, Fullerton, Calif.
HP Hood LLC, Portland, Maine
Foremost Farms USA, Marshfield, Wis.
Foremost Farms USA, Wilson, Wis.
West Farm Foods, Jerome, Idaho
Foremost Farms USA, Waukon, Iowa
Safeway Inc., Phoenix Ice Cream Plant, Phoenix, Ariz.
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Southwest Operations Center, Commerce, Calif.
Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, Laurel Operations Center, Laurel, Md.
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Tulare Operations Center, Tulare, Calif.
Trucking Operations
Franklin Foods, Duluth, Minn.
Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, Great Plains, Lenexa, Kan.
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Arizona NG, Phoenix, Ariz.
Edy’s Grand Ice Cream, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Kemps LLC, Minneapolis, Minn.
HP Hood LLC, Agawam Distribution, Agawam, Mass.