Multi-colored balloons and yellow caution tape covered the ceiling of the Kennametal Industrial Product Group's foyer. Yellow construction hard-hats and safety insignias also embellished tables and walls in the Evans facility's break room Aug. 13.
Millersen Curry (left) and Valerie Clark, Kennametal employees enjoy a full course catered lunch in honor of 1000 days with no work-related accidents. The celebration was held Aug. 13.
The drill-bit company was set for a celebration.
"This means that no work-related accident was serious enough to make any employee miss work," said Bonnie Williams of Martinez, human resources manager for the company.
In honor of 1,000 days without any loss of time in work-related accidents, Kennametal, located on Old Evans Road, treated each of its more than 400 employees to a catered lunch, which competed with the aroma of hot oil from the company's roaring machinery.
In addition to the celebration, each employee received a red tote bag with a safety kit inside. Some also qualified for door prizes.
Tovonda Johnson, a Harlem resident and the company's human resources supervisor and safety manager, said she was proud of Kennametal's progress.
"This is a great accomplishment because it shows how safety is first at Kennametal, and it also shows how we take it very seriously," said Johnson, who has worked with the company for a year. "We want to make our employees recognize what they have done because it's a team effort."
John Wolford, a North Augusta resident and flute grinder machine operator, said he makes sure to look out for himself and others when working.
"I make sure my hands are where I can see them," said Wolford, who has worked with the company for five years. "I make sure there's no clutter in my area to trip over, and I make sure I wear my safety goggles and ear plugs. We watch each other with what we do. If someone sees an unusual situation, they usually do something about it."
Previously known as Greenfield Industries until 1997, Kennametal makes drill bits for customers throughout the world for markets such as automotive, aerospace and construction.
With a staff of more than 400 people that work with hazardous chemicals and heavy machinery, the company gives safety training to its employees annually, said Bonnie Williams, the company's human resources manager.
"We have hazardous training, CPR and defibrillator training, fire extinguisher training and more," Williams said. "We train everybody in all aspects because you never know when an emergency will happen. And it doesn't have to be related to a machine operation."
Augusta resident Millersen Curry works in the special shipping and receiving department of the plant. She said she knows what it's like to get hurt on the job.
"After three and a half years of working here, a drill broke and hit me on the head," said the 27-year employee. "I had a little concussion, and I missed three days from work."
Curry said a co-worker was servicing a machine when the tool bit broke, hitting her on the head. She said the accident occurred because there were no dividers between her and the co-worker. Now, she said, the company has installed the dividers.
"It feels great knowing that they care about you," she said. "They put the people first. They put safety first."
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