Perdue Rockingham operation earns safety award

Special to the Daily Journal

September 6, 2013

The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council recently recognized the Perdue Farms’ food production operation in Rockingham for outstanding safety performance, for consistently implementing innovative and effective safety and health processes and systems.

Perdue Farms received the award at the 2013 National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry in Amelia Island, Fla., in August. Perdue facilities received 20 of the 92 total awards given, the most received by any Council member company.

The Rockingham operation was one of eight company food-producing facilities to receive the Award of Distinction, the Council’s highest honor. It marks the third straight year the Rockingham plant earned the award since the inception of the Council’s safety award program in 2010.

The award criteria required the Rockingham facility to maintain key Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety metrics — Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR), Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART), and Lost Work Day Incident Rate (LWDIR) — at levels at least 50 percent better than the industry average for three consecutive years. Award consideration was also based on each facility’s written explanation of its safety programs and processes.

“Our associates work hard to maintain a safe work environment and I’m proud to see those efforts recognized in this way,” said Kendall Casey, director of Perdue operations in Rockingham. “The most important part of creating a safe workplace is the ongoing commitment of our associates who come to work every day with safety top of mind.”

Perdue has a standard, company-wide safety culture that encourages active associate participation and input, said company officials. Associates take part in various safety committees, which meet regularly to discuss safety issues, as well as perform and participate in safety inspections during each shift. Associates have the authority to stop production or prevent start-up if any unsafe condition exists, according to the company. In addition, every associate attends initial and ongoing safety awareness training, and is encouraged to look for and report any potential hazard.

Associates are also encouraged to report potential safety issues through the Perdue Safety Ticket Opportunity Process (STOP), a tracking system that provides a method to capture, communicate and correct identified safety hazards that could cause injury to associates or damage facilities. A STOP report is created for any identified safety opportunity for improvement and forwarded to a manager or supervisor — often a safety and security manager — who assigns responsibility and a due date for corrective action.

As part of the Perdue Business Improvement Process at Perdue Foods’ plants, associates meet in “huddles” where managers share safety awareness messages and associates share ideas and observations regarding safety.

“At Perdue Farms, our safety processes and systems create a culture of safety engagement that involves every one of our associates,” said Chairman Jim Perdue. “Each year, we set goals around people, products, planet and productivity, and we always put people first in that equation. We believe there’s nothing more important than creating a safe, supportive and healthy working environment where our associates can be successful and return safely to their families at the end of the workday.”

According to statistics released by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, during its most recently reported year in 2011, the nationwide lost-time rate for all industries combined for that same year was 1.2 per 100 workers annually, while Perdue’s company-wide rate during that year was 0.16 per 100 associates. As of March 2012, Perdue’s lost-time rate was .15 per 100 associates.

The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council comprises members from the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation. Combined, these three organizations represent companies that produce 95 percent of the nation’s poultry products and employ more 350,000 workers.

To learn more about Perdue Farms, visit