Nestled along the shore of the Ohio River in Racine, Ohio, Apple Grove Sand & Gravel has a proud group of close-knit (and safety-conscious) employees who have worked hard to turn their location into a profitable plant deserving of Diamond Award designation.
Apple Grove has been in operation since the 1950s, but wasn't acquired by Martin Marietta until 1995. Part of the Mideast Division’s Ohio District, the site increased its total production last year by 28 percent over 2013. During that same period, gross profit at the plant increased nearly sevenfold.
“We’ve been super busy the past few years,” said Plant Operator Herb Laudermilt, “and most everything we’ve produced has gone straight onto barges and off to customers.”
Fortunately, the steady flow of business has not diverted this team from its dedication to safety.
“These guys don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” said Plant Manager Greg Curry. “They really care about each other and want everyone to go home safely.”
“We’re a tight family here,” added Laudermilt. “I’ve known several of these guys pretty much my entire life. It would tear me up to see one of them go home injured, or worse.”
The plant’s last reportable incident occurred in 2011; its last lost-time incident was in 2006. Despite the challenges posed by so much work on and near water, the employees’ watchful eyes and constant communication have helped keep this crew safe.
The team transitioned to the companywide Guardian Angel program in 2015, adding depth to an arsenal of safety tools that already included frequent meetings, workplace and pre-shift inspections, hazard risk analyses and pre-task Stop, Look, Analyze and Manage assessments (SLAMs).
According to Loader Operator Louie Pickett, who just celebrated 40 years of service at Apple Grove, a powerful driver behind the team’s safety success is its ability and obligation to shut things down if risks are present.
“If something doesn’t feel safe, you don’t have to do it,” he said, “and that’s a really good feeling.”