Fort Smith, Ark. — The Rheem Air Conditioning Division in Fort Smith,
Ark., recently earned the prestigious One Million Work Hours Safety Award. The Rheem
facility received this honor after its employees completed 1 million work hours without a lost
day of work due to a work-related injury or illness, between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2014.
“It’s critical that our employees work in a safe, secure environment,” said Mike Branson,
vice president and general manager, Rheem Air Conditioning Division. “This award is a
testament to the tremendous work that every employee does to ensure that safety is our
highest priority. Significant credit for this accomplishment goes to our director of operations,
Brian Gahr, our safety and workers’ compensation manager, Joe Keith, the labor
management committee, and the associates of United Steel Workers, Local 7893. We are
truly honored to receive this award.”
Rheem hosted an awards presentation ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 25, to commemorate the
safety milestone. The ceremony coincided with Rheem’s Employee Appreciation Day,
during which the company provided employees with a catered lunch and celebratory T-shirts.
As a special surprise, employees were treated to a concert performed by a talented band of
Susan Weaver, education and instruction coordinator with the Arkansas Department of Labor
presented the One Million Work Hours Safety Award along with David Schneider, legal
advisor with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. Additionally, Kathy
Watson, constituent service director from the office of U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas,
attended the event and read a personal congratulatory letter from the senator.
Several government organizations help administer the One Million Work Hours Safety
Award, including representatives from the office of Gov. Mike Beebe, the Arkansas
Department of Labor, the Arkansas Department of Insurance, the Arkansas Workers
Compensation Commission, the office of John Boozman, the office of U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor
of Arkansas, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Little Rock area office,
and the press offices for both the Arkansas State Senate and House of Representatives.
The Rheem Air Conditioning Division opened its headquarters in Fort Smith in 1970. Today,
the site produces all of the company’s commercial HVAC equipment and certain residential
products. While the manufacturing climate in Fort Smith has shifted due to economic
conditions, Rheem’s Fort Smith operations has always been a vital part of the company’s
manufacturing footprint and it will continue to be a valuable place of employment for the
Fort Smith community.
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