Feb. 12, 2007
Contact: Jeannine Lupton
SEATTLE -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized Washington Demilitarization Company's Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) in Hermiston, Ore., for excellence in employee health and safety. OSHA will admit the facility into its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) at the highest level, the VPP "Star," in a ceremony to be held Feb.12 at the facility in Hermiston.
UMCDF is charged with the destruction of munitions stored at the Umatilla Army Chemical Depot. The depot stores two basic types of chemical agents: nerve agent (GB, VX) and blister agent (HD), commonly referred to as mustard agent.
"The level of safety and health achieved at the site is very impressive. It shows that even on complex and critical operations, with proper hazard analysis, planning and training, the work can be done safely," said Richard Terrill, OSHA regional administrator in Seattle.
The facility joins an elite corps of approximately 1,600 worksites nationwide that have earned VPP status. The "Star" designation came after an OSHA on-site review of UMCDF's safety and health programs, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the worksite. OSHA approved VPP "Star" level at the facility for three years.
VPP provides opportunities to a wide array of industries ranging from construction and agriculture to food manufacturing. The VPP currently encompasses more than 1,600 worksites with companies from over 270 different industries.
OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs have proven over the years to be an effective means of reducing injuries, illnesses, fatalities and costs, whiling fostering a more productive workforce and increasing employee morale.
Beyond being a role model for safety and health in their respective industries, VPP companies generally experience many other positive benefits such as 60 to 80 percent fewer lost workday injuries, an injury and illness rate that more than 50 percent below average for their industries and reduced workers' compensation costs.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure 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.
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