The phrase "that looks like an accident waiting to happen" is never heard at Temple-Inland in Thomson. In fact, the company recently celebrated its eighth year of no lost time due to accidents on the job.
Temple employee Curtis Coulter receives his PlayStation door prize from Plant Manager Larry Thompson during last week's banquet.
"You ought to be proud of yourselves," said John McClain, vice-president of panel products. "I'm not aware of any other plant that's done this for this long."
Mr. McClain, who flew in from Diboll, Texas, was one of the guest speakers at a celebration banquet on Wednesday, June 7. Almost all of the 115 employees attended the mid-day banquet at the Box Factory along with other special guests, including Thomson Mayor Bob Knox, McDuffie County Fire Chief Bruce Tanner and Assistant Chief Stephen Sewell.
Plant Manager Larry Thompson also congratulated the group, acknowledging the type of work ethics required for such an accomplishment.
"We have many workers who do more than just their job every day," he said. "They really try to improve the area where they work. And when I say work, I mean work - not just standing in an office talking ... to work all day with heavy equipment and machinery and not get hurt. When we have this many people working together for this long, it's quite an accomplishment."
Temple-Inland has 17 plants in eight states that manufacture building products such as fiberboard, siding, gypsum, particleboard and lumber. The Thomson plant opened in 1974 for the production of particle board.
Mike Lyons, the Thomson plant safety manager, said "eight years no lost time from accidents" means no employee has missed work from a work-related injury.
"And anything, like a twisted ankle, if they were off a day because of it, could count against us," he said in an interview. "...It will keep going until someone is out, it could happen any day. All it takes is something small; someone could fall or trip and break an arm or a leg. And with most jobs out here, if you've got a broken arm or leg, you can't do them."
Good employees plus a good work environment equals a good community, according to Mayor Knox.
"You've got a lot to be proud of. There's no other company that I know of that has accomplished this," he said in his speech. "You have a good community when you've got good jobs. We thank you, John, and the corporation, for giving those in Thomson a good place to work; and all you folks at Temple for making our community a good one. ...We've got a great place to live, and we are going to make it even better through you and your work efforts."
The speeches followed a lunch catered by Neal's Barbeque. Door prizes, such as a tent, battery car starter, horseshoes, Timex watches, azaleas, PlayStation game system and a cooler on wheels, were passed out before the workers had to return to their jobs.
"All we need for y'all to do is continue to work safe, and make lots of particle board, because we can sell it," Mr. McClain said. "Keep up the good work doing a great job. I look forward to being back for nine years next year."