Colorado DFA Plant Reaches Five-Year Milestone of No Lost-Time Accidents

Plant Safety is First Priority
June 5, 2008

Kansas City, Mo. - Working in a dairy processing plant can be hazardous, but because of its commitment to safety, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.’s (DFA), Fort Morgan, Colo., plant, has reached a milestone of five years with no lost-time accidents. More than 40 employees operate the plant that manufactures dairy ingredients.

“Employee safety is our number-one goal, and I am very proud of our employees for reaching this milestone,” says Tom Cotter, Fort Morgan’s plant manager. “Safety training and procedures are critical to our success, but it is the daily commitment to safety from each of our employees that makes the difference.”

DFA provides a comprehensive safety program for employees, including new employee education, annual training on a variety of topics, an active safety committee, certification programs and many printed materials throughout the plant. A commitment to the safety policies and procedures and good employee communication are other critical components of Fort Morgan’s safety program.

Four employees lead the plant’s safety committee: Shawn Garrett, production manager; Jerry Gaskill, production supervisor; Ted Lawson, mechanic; and Art Soto, dryer operator. These employees are responsible for monthly committee meetings and detailed plant safety inspections, and keeping safety foremost on the employees’ minds every day.

“A commitment to safety includes working hard to educate and train employees on the hazards they face, and to ensure they are aware of how to perform their job safely,” says Lou Sikma, DFA’s director of safety and loss control, who provides safety training and support to Fort Morgan and several other DFA plants in the western United States.

During this five-year period, the Fort Morgan plant doubled its capacity in response to the growing milk supply in northeastern Colorado. “With additional hazards during an expansion, this milestone is an even greater achievement,” Sikma says.

Since 1998, the plant has manufactured sweet cream, condensed milk and nonfat dry milk – ingredients used to make cheese, yogurt and ice cream. The plant is supplied by dairy farmers in northeastern Colorado, and is planning another expansion that will be completed in 2009.

The Fort Morgan plant is one of 22 DFA dairy plants across the United States. All DFA plants participate in comprehensive safety programs that protect employees while producing high-quality dairy products and ingredients for consumers.