Fri., May 16, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Achievement recognized in VPP flag-raising ceremony today
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. - Coca-Cola North America's Northampton beverage plant is the company's first New England worksite to achieve "star" status, or the highest level, in the prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Agency officials, and Coca-Cola employees and management celebrated the achievement in a flag-raising ceremony held today at the plant.
The VPP recognizes worksites, such as Coca-Cola, that are committed to effective employee protection beyond the requirements of OSHA standards and encourages cooperative relationships among labor, management and government.
"Coca-Cola and its employees here in Northampton are to be congratulated on this milestone," commented Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator in Boston. "Their proactive commitment to workplace safety and health has resulted in injury and illness rates far below the industry average."
The Northampton plant, which packages juices and other noncarbonated beverages, has 170 employees. Its "star" designation followed an OSHA team's week-long onsite review that found the facility's safety and health management systems consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants. The plant now joins more than 1,957 worksites in 270 industries nationwide, including 32 sites in Massachusetts, that have earned entry into the VPP.
Through the VPP, employers and employees have experienced significant decreases in fatalities, injuries and illnesses; associated cost reductions including lowered workers' compensation expenses; positive changes in company culture and attitudes toward safety and health; and average injury rates 50 percent lower than other employers in their respective industries. More information is available from the VPP manager in OSHA's Boston Regional Office at 617-565-9890.
Workplaces are safer than they have ever been with fatality and injury and illness rates declining to record lows in this administration. The injury and illness rate was 4.4 per 100 employees and the work-related fatality rate was 4.0 fatalities per 100,000 employees in 2006, the latest data available. Since OSHA's inception in 1971, U.S. employment has increased from 56 million employees at 3.5 million worksites to more than 135 million employees at 8.9 million worksites.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America"s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.