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VPP Initiative at Clean Harbors Leads to Less Illness and Injuries and More Employee Involvement and Safety and Health Training

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VPP Initiative at Clean Harbors Leads to Less Illness and Injuries and More Employee Involvement and Safety and Health Training


Headquartered in Norwell, Massachusetts, with locations strategically positioned in 36 states, six Canadian provinces, and in Mexico and Puerto Rico, Clean Harbors Environmental Services (Clean Harbors) is North America's largest provider of environmental and hazardous waste management services. The company provides essential services to over 47,000 customers, including more than 325 Fortune 500 companies; thousands of smaller private entities; and numerous federal, state, and local government agencies. Clean Harbors has 53 waste management facilities offering a wide range of disposal options including incineration; wastewater treatment; and landfill, recycling, and specialty disposal services. Clean Harbors' network of over 100 service locations provides transportation and disposal, laboratory chemical packing, 24-hour emergency response, and field and industrial services on customer sites or other locations.

In June 2005, Clean Harbors' Lone Mountain facility in Waynoka, Oklahoma was first recognized as a Star worksite under the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) - OSHA's premier safety and health recognition program. This was the first Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) in the United States (U.S.) to attain VPP Star status and recognition from OSHA which recognizes the outstanding efforts of those who have implemented exemplary safety and health management systems. Besides the Lone Mountain facility, there are five additional facilities currently participating in VPP, including in: Reidsville, North Carolina; Cincinnati, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; Kimball, Nebraska; with Buttonwillow, California slated to be accepted later this year.

Success Impact:
Clean Harbors' VPP Initiative Results in Many Positive Benefits

Promoting safety and health within all of their facilities throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico is Clean Harbors' top priority. It is the company's belief that this type of commitment benefits all - the employees, customers, the community, and the environment. Beginning in 2004, due to where they were based, seven of Clean Harbors' facilities were selected to begin the process of preparing to submit their VPP applications to OSHA.

Clean Harbors' VPP initiative incorporated key elements from OSHA's guidelines on how to develop an effective safety and health management system, including increasing employee involvement and their decision-making in safety. The VPP initiative also increased safety and health training by delivering the loss prevention and control course, and implementing a behavioral observation program.

"Because Health and Safety is priority #1 at Clean Harbors, about five years ago, I asked seven facilities within our company to initiate contact with their respective OSHA cooperative programs and begin the VPP journey. Five years later, I am pleased to share that Clean Harbors has five locations that have been accepted into the VPP, and one more scheduled to fly the STAR flag by the end of 2009. Since we kicked off this initiative, our facilities are enjoying considerable injury rate reductions each year. We are currently pursuing VPP status at several other facilities and we are planning on expanding our VPP efforts across other business lines. This common sense cooperative management system - which insists on managers working along side employees in analyzing their work sites and preventing hazards - simply works." Alan S. McKim, CEO of Clean Harbors
Injury/Illness Data

Over the past five years, Clean Harbors' VPP initiative, combined with other existing safety and health initiatives, resulted in a significantly reduced Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR), Days Away, Restricted, and Transferred (DART) rate, and Emergency Modifier Rate (EMR). Although Clean Harbors' has not initiated pursuing VPP recognition at all of their 100+ locations yet, the VPP initiative has been implemented, beginning in 2004, throughout its entire Facility Division. The table below shows the decrease in injury and illness rates and the Emergency Modifier Rate within this division over the past five years (2004-2008).

BLS Industry National Average (2007)4.306.70

As presented above, the TCIR was reduced by 39 percent between 2004 and 2008, and the DART rate was reduced by 53 percent, which cut the corporate EMR by 45 percent. Also, Clean Harbors' 2008 TCIR was 77 percent below the 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) national average which is quite an accomplishment.

Future Plans

Clean Harbors plans to increase the number of its facilities that have pursued and attained VPP recognition by taking advantage of OSHA's new corporate method for participating in the program (formally effective May 9, 2009). Under the new corporate option, large multi-facility employers who make a significant commitment to the VPP can use a streamlined application process to gain VPP approval at individual sites or sites within a DGA. The new procedure allows the organizations to submit their basic safety and health management system documentation one time and have OSHA evaluate the system one time. Currently, 10 additional Clean Harbors' facilities are in various stages of the VPP application process.

Clean Harbors employees (from right to left) Jody Reinhart, Jay Adair, Walter Syms, Jon Mitchell, Alan King, Lee Ann Meek, and Gary Mitchell raise Clean Harbors' first Star VPP flag at their Lone Mountain, Oklahoma Facility in June 2005

Clean Harbors employees (from right to left) Jody Reinhart, Jay Adair, Walter Syms, Jon Mitchell, Alan King, Lee Ann Meek, and Gary Mitchell raise Clean Harbors' first Star VPP flag at their Lone Mountain, Oklahoma Facility in June 2005

Origin: Region I, Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Norwell, MA

Entered VPP: June 2005

Industry/NAICS Code: Waste Treatment and Disposal/5622

Employees: Approximately 4,000 (400 at VPP facilities)

Employer: 1

Source and Date: Scott Sylvester, Senior Director of Health and Safety, Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Columbia, SC (May 2009)

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