Utility Trailer plant in Paragould, Ark., honored for safety

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For the fourth time in the last five years, Utility Trailer’s manufacturing plant in Paragould, Ark., was awarded the Plant Safety Award by the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association. The Paragould facility, established in 1993, again was identified in 2007 by TTMA as having the best overall safety record of all manufacturing facilities identified in the association’s Category A ranking.

This significant safety achievement means that Utility Trailer employees in Paragould performed more than 750,000 work hours in 2007 with limited injuries and illnesses. The milestone was reached by the 450 employees who work at Utility Trailer’s dry freight trailer assembly plant in Paragould. The year 2007 also marked another plant achievement: the rollout of the 75,000th dry van manufactured by plant employees.

“As a company and at all five Utility Trailer manufacturing plants, we emphasize disciplined behavior, safe work processes and employee ownership of safety,” says David Neighbors, plant manager at the Paragould facility. “Achieving this annual award for safety performance is significant, but what is truly impressive are the actions and attitudes of every single person at our plant to work safely, year-in and year-out.”

The Paragould manufacturing plant also received the annual TTMA Plant Safety Award (Category A) in 2006, 2005 and 2003. TTMA awards safety winners based on information member companies submit on the OSHA Form 300, which is sent by all manufacturers to the federal government by Jan. 31 of each year. TTMA awards for trailer manufacturers are classified in three categories: Category A – more than 750,000 man hours; Category B – 300,000 to 750,000 man hours; and Category C – fewer than 300,000 man hours.

Utility Trailer says it takes a proactive approach to on-the-job-safety at all five manufacturing plants located nationwide. Routine audits, staff training programs and active safety checks by line supervisors are integral to a safe work environment. If potential safety hazards are identified, Utility Trailer takes prompt action to follow up on incidents and put countermeasures or preventive processes in place. Lift-assist devices and mechanical robots are just two examples of tools used to lessen the impacts of physically challenging jobs. Tools and assembly processes are designed to produce the greatest ergonomic benefits. Standardization of processes leads to a more consistent level of performance and reduces the risk of injuries. Best practices in safety are shared within individual plants and with sister plants to promote continuous improvement.

Neighbors also noted that on-the-job safety provides some significant tangible benefits to the company. “In addition to the health and well-being of our employees, our outstanding safety performance translates into fewer schedule disruptions, greater productivity and lower costs associated with lost-time injuries,” he says. “Our goal is to help Utility Trailer be successful now and down the road, to help extend career longevity for our employees and to boost morale along the way.”