Press Releases

Rheem Earns the One Million Work Hours Safety Award

Employees at Rheem's Fort Smith, Ark., Air Conditioning Division celebrate an impressive safety achievement

Rheem Gas Furnaces

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 Rheem employees.  


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 Comp 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.