It was April 2013 when the most recent lost-time injury took place at Cargill’s pork processing facility in Beardstown, Ill., a large plant in southern part of the state. More than 2,000 employees work at the plant and produce over 1 billion pounds of pork annually from 19,000-20,000 hogs harvested there daily. Given the number and variety of tasks performed in the plant, the equipment used, and the complexity of the pork production that takes place there, going a year-and-a-half without a lost time injury is a feat requiring a sustained focus and commitment to workplace safely.
Yet, plant general manager Steve Pirkle is not surprised about the Beardstown team’s attainment of such a lofty safety achievement. “We confront injury risk by acknowledging its potential and weaving prevention into our cultural fabric. Going so many months without a lost time injury occurs because people care about each other and the important work they are doing to produce food. They are attentive and nobody is shy about pointing out potential risks so we can address them before an injury takes place. Our daily goal is to return home in the same physical condition as when we arrive at the plant for work.”
To acknowledge the workplace safety accomplishment by the Beardstown team, a prime rib dinner will be provided to employees working all three shifts at the plant on October 9. Why prime rib and not pork? Because, as Pirkle explains, “We have many employee events here featuring pork, so this is something a bit different and Cargill is also a large beef producer. Providing a prime rib meal is a small token of appreciation for the commitment to safety we have all made while on the job,” stated Pirkle. “We have a very diverse employee population that takes a great deal of pride in the work we do at our Beardstown pork plant, and we want to be known for our food safety, animal care, workplace safety efforts and our contributions to the community.”
The Beardstown pork processing facility was built in 1966 and acquired by Cargill in 1987. It sits on 630 acre site, has an annual payroll exceeding $87 million, purchases more than $1 billion annually in goods and services and each year donates more than $200,000 and five tons of pork products to community organizations. Pork products from the facility provide nutritious, wholesome, abundant and affordable protein to consumers through North America and several countries in Asia.