Rutland Lumber Company

Tom Duncan, Rutland Lumber Company’s general manager, stands in the company’s sawmill. Rutland Lumber Company is one of the largest hardwood mills in the southeast, cutting 24 million board feet a year.

Meeting production goals is always at the top of a business owner’s mind. However, companies that insist on protecting their employees from work-related injuries while meeting those production goals are the companies that deserve our utmost respect.  Rutland Lumber Company is a third generation, family-owned business based in Collins, Mississippi, that employs over 75 workers. They provide quality southern hardwood lumber using the most cutting-edge machinery available in the industry. They produce, cut, grade, kiln dry, and air dry hardwood lumber, and ship it to clients worldwide. When Rutland Lumber Company noticed their employees were having more accidents than usual, they knew they had to spring into action. 

“We already had safety procedures in place, but we began to realize that our employees needed constant reminders to raise their safety awareness,” said Tom Duncan, Rutland Lumber Company’s general manager. “We did this by doubling our efforts, quite literally. We went from one safety meeting a month to two, and also stepped up the incentives to our employees for safety performance. We quickly began seeing a significant decrease in the number of accidents.”

“We had actually just switched workers’ compensation carriers, because we wanted to make sure there was nothing we were overlooking,” Duncan said. “We were looking for an extra pair of eyes, and LUBA turned out to be exactly what we needed.”

A large chip bin where all the chips from manufacturing the lumber are stored.

Since it has been a LUBA policyholder, Rutland Lumber has consistently reduced its on-the-job injuries. In fact, last year they experienced no claims!

“Given the size of the company and the premium they had, it was one of the triggers that encouraged us to offer heightened loss control service tailored to their industry,” said Scott Anderson, the LUBA Loss Control Consultant assigned to Rutland Lumber. “We visited the facility and found them to be extremely receptive. We reviewed everything: their return to work program, drug policy, safety audits, training, etc. We examined their claims and realized they were across the board and couldn’t be attributed to one specific task or a particular department.  Ultimately, they decided that the best way to reach their workers was to change the entire culture of the company.”

“It wasn’t that we didn’t realize the value of on-the-job safety, but once we changed over to LUBA, they helped us look at our business more objectively.  We implemented several specific recommendations they gave us,” Duncan said. “To permanently keep our company’s eyes on safety, we now have an on-site safety supervisor.” 

Since it has been a LUBA policyholder, Rutland Lumber has consistently reduced its on-the-job injuries.  In fact, last year they experienced no claims! “Having gone 12 months with zero claims is a tremendous achievement for Rutland Lumber Company.  We look forward to continuing this culture of safety,” Duncan said.

The sawmill industry can be very hazardous and labor intensive with many workers wearing several hats. With such a small labor pool in the market, every worker is an invaluable asset to the company. “The last thing I want to see is one of my guys getting hurt,” Duncan said. “Our philosophy is that OSHA is welcome to visit any time. If OSHA wants to come in and point out some things we can do better to keep our employees safer, then I am all for it.”

For information on how the LUBA Loss Control team can help improve your safety culture contact us at or (888) 884-5822.