Georgia Pacific's Naheola Mill plant, just outside Pennington, Ala., was awarded the Chairman's Safety Award for having at least 500,000 work hours without a recordable injury.
"It's so important, first of all because it's a difficult award to achieve, 500,000 work hours without an OSHA recordable (injury)," said mill manager Dan Trettin.
It may be most notable because the making of paper products relies heavily on cutting.
Each day the Naheola Mill produces more than 60,000 cases of finished paper products. This includes everything from household name brand products such as Brawny paper towels and Quilted Northern tissue.
Of the 400 Georgia Pacific facilities nationwide, only 55 have ever achieved this honor. Company officials say this award, as well as the company's recent distinction as the only one in the nation with a Voluntary Protective Program, prove its commitment to safety.
"Because we believe business is about people and people are about teamwork and teamwork starts with safety," said Pete Correll, CEO of Georgia Pacific.
Speaking of teamwork, mill officials say with at least $19 million worth of upgrades are planned over the next year at the plant. It's possible the Naheola facility could expand its 1,400 employee workforce over the next two years.
"All of our products here are geared toward consumer products," said Trettin. "They all end up on a shelf somewhere in someone's home and it really depends on the growth of those markets, but the economy is looking up and the board segment has been very positive, and like I say, the issue and towel segment is starting to pick up, so things look a lot better for us than probably a year ago at this time."
Mill officials say it's still too early to say how many additional jobs the upgrades could create.