Originally created 05/29/03

Monsanto plant gets safety award



The 190 employees at Monsanto Co.'s bovine hormone plant in Augusta have a sense of humor. After all, dairy cows are the main customer.

But they don't joke around when it comes to workplace safety - the facility has not had a lost-time injury since it opened four years ago.

On Wednesday, the plant was given the Georgia Department of Labor's Award of Excellence, the agency's top safety award.

Of 195,000 businesses in Georgia, only 200 have received the designation during the past 10 years.

"This is an award that's earned," said Earl Everett, the Labor Department's director of safety engineering. "This isn't something we just give out."

The plant produces Posilac, a product that increases milk production in dairy cows. The east Augusta plant has logged more than 1.3 million work hours without an injury requiring an employee to miss work. The last time an employee reported any type of injury - a cut finger - was in September.

"The few incidents we've had have been very, very minor," said Jeff Castillo, the plant's health and safety manager.

Plant Manager George McGowan said the facility's accident-free streak is the result of a commitment by employees and the aggressive program run by Mr. Castillo, which records every incident regardless of how small.

"If somebody gets stung by a bee, we keep track of it," Mr. McGowan said.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.