A farmer-owned co-operative has been named one of America’s safest companies.
Wheat Growers, which is owned by 5,400 active member-owners in eastern North and South Dakota, has received the accolade from EHS Today, an occupational health and safety magazine.
The awards honour companies in the US that have clearly demonstrated commitment to employee health and safety, environment management and risk control. Companies on the list represent a diverse set of industries, but this is the first time an agricultural organisation has been included.
“Wheat Growers is proud to be the first agricultural organisation to receive this award,” said Dale Locken, CEO of the co-op. “Our success as one of the largest farmer-owned co-operatives is driven by a set of core values that includes a commitment by our employees, board and leadership to a positive safety culture. Wheat Growers employees continue to reinforce that value by doing their job safely, productively and efficiently every day.”
The grain and agronomy co-operative was founded in 1923, and markets around 160 million bushels annually. Despite the name, Wheat Growers’ members now grow more corn and soybeans than they do wheat. It is governed by a board of active producers elected to represent five districts, and backed by 45 delegates who serve as the liaison with the general membership.
Earlier this year, Hal Clemensen, president of Wheat Growers’ board of directors, was awarded the Director of the Year award by the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC).
To be considered one of America’s Safest Companies, companies must demonstrate transformational environmental, health and safety leadership in the form of support from management and employee involvement; innovative solutions to safety challenges; injury and illness rates significantly lower than the average for their industries; comprehensive training programs; evidence that prevention of incidents is the cornerstone of the safety process; excellent communication internally and externally about the value of safety; and a way to substantiate the benefits of the safety process.
Bill Spreeman, Wheat Growers vice-president, safety, environmental and regulatory affairs, said the co-operative was “honoured” to be recognised by the awards. “This recognition is the result of our employees’ ongoing commitment and passion to a positive safety culture and reflects the sustained performance and continuous improvement we have experienced in our established, industry-leading safety metrics.”
Wheat Growers will receive the award on 20 September, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of the EHS Safety Leadership Conference.