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Monday, July 28, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
New York State SHARP Director Jeff Holodouk (right) presents Safety Director and Human Resources Manager Martin Callahan with Helmont Mills' SHARP designation last Wednesday at a picnic held to reward employees.

Joshua Thomas
A view inside the tidy, orderly and safe Helmont Mills.

Joshua Thomas
Helmont Mills Warping Shift Foreman Diane Giarusso has worked at the plant for over 30 years. With Giarusso is maintenance employee Mike Dinehart.

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Helmont Mills receives SHARP award for safety excellence

Wednesday, July 02, 2014 - Updated: 10:02 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

ST. JOHNSVILLE -- Early last Wednesday afternoon, 80 employees gathered in a picnic area behind St. Johnsville's village textile manufacturing plant Helmont Mills, Inc. to celebrate the company's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program designation for excellence in safety and health management -- its second SHARP honor in three years.

The award was presented by New York State SHARP Director Jeff Holodouk in recognition of outstanding Safety and Health Achievement as a participating member of the New York State Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Plant Manager Charlie Sammons noted, "This award is only given to 3/10 of one percent of all manufacturing" in New York State.

SHARP is a voluntary program, under which inspectors monitor the plant's programs and review all training documentation. They also conduct walk-through inspections of the facility, checking various plant features, including the fire extinguishers and emergency lighting system. Noise levels are monitored as well, and inspectors make sure that aisles are free and clear. 

The OSHA 300 log is reviewed to monitor past accidents, with certification requiring no more than two annual accidents for a company the size of Helmont Mills. They also review near-miss accidents, taking a close look "to see if anything could've been avoided," said Sammons.

The plant's Safety Director and Human Resources Manager Martin Callahan is responsible for all of the plant's safety training and accompanying paperwork, conducting monthly safety meetings and regularly providing pertinent safety-oriented information to each department. Callahan also attends county meetings for new information and techniques to apply at Helmont Mills.

"He is the main guy when it comes to the safety program here," said Sammons, pointing out that though Callahan is integral to the success of the program, it's a team effort. "None of this would happen without the participation of the employees," Sammons said, continuing, "everybody has to be on board."

"It's an investment on the owners' part," said Sammons of the decision to volunteer for SHARP review, though, "the rewards are great, starting with no accidents." The SHARP designation also translates into lower insurance premiums.

Sammons, an employee of Helmont Mills for over forty years in numerous capacities, including as longterm safety coordinator prior to Callahan, stated of receiving the plant's second SHARP designation, "I couldn't be happier. As plant manager, my number one priority is to make sure employees are safe."

Commenting on the future of Helmont Mills, Sammons explained that the company -- which has many longterm employees that have been there for decades -- is currently in a state of transition. As employees retire, others have been receiving extensive training. FMCC has provided supervisory training and quality control management. Plant employees have also been sent for fabric analysis training, and training workshops have taken place in North and South Carolina textile schools.

Sammons said, "The owner is very aggressively training the next generation to take over and run the factory."

"The future looks quite great for our company."

     

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