Lufkin businesses create safer workplace following OSHA notification

By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Six Lufkin businesses are among 15,000 workplaces notified by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Some local businesses say they have already taken steps to improve workplace safety.

A letter from OSHA has already sparked changes at Atkinson Candy Company.  One of their employee lounge floors has been resurfaced to reduce the number of slips.

"We have built some ramps to put our pallets on to reduce stooping and twisting, and that sort of thing," explained Atkinson Candy Company Lufkin Plant Manager Mark Love.  "We also rotate our employees on machines so no employee does the same thing all day."

Six Lufkin companies were notified by OSHA including UPS, Moore Brothers Construction, Pilgrim's Pride, Lowe's, and Lufkin Industries.

OSHA said if a company receives a letter then it means employees at that specific place are being injured at a higher rate than most other businesses of its kind in the country.  However, Lufkin Industries said safety is always a top priority.

"Throughout our company, we're always reviewing our safety practices, looking at our equipment to make sure they're in good operating order and then trying to find the best equipment to do the job safely," said Lufkin Industries Vice-President Paul Perez.

Tyson Foods issued this statement about their plant in Center, "The data cited in the OSHA report is from 2008.  The DART rate at our Center plant has dropped by about 25% since then."

The Lufkin companies KTRE talked to also said they've seen improvements since 2008.  Love said the candy plant has about 185 full-time employees and about 23 had injuries, most of which were minor.

"We've already reduced the slips, that's helped immediately and as far as the strains and sprains, we still have some of that, but not as many," said Love.

"I just recall that our statistics were cut significantly partly because our activity was reduced, but 2008 was a high employment year," Perez said.

Although local companies said the nature of the work lands them on the list, some have already taken action to make their business a sweeter place to work.

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