Nuts about safetyPublished 11:10pm Thursday, July 24, 2014
The Planters Peanuts plant in Suffolk has received special recognition from the state for its occupational safety and health standards.
On July 18, the commissioner at the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, C. Ray Davenport, announced that the Kraft Foods Group facility has been re-approved as a STAR worksite.
STAR is the highest designation under the state’s occupational safety and health Voluntary Protection Program. The plant’s second certificate of recognition was issued on March 25.
“The management and employees of this facility have continued to show true leadership in occupational safety and health, and I commend Kraft for embracing the VPP (Voluntary Protection Program) spirit in their Suffolk facility along with their other facilities,” Davenport stated in a news release.
Attaining STAR status is described as an extensive process. Since the Voluntary Protection Program was introduced in 1996, only 59 STAR worksites have been recognized, and only 40 Virginia companies currently have STAR designation.
“In the Planters-Suffolk facility, we’re very proud to have an involved and engaged workforce that has demonstrated a long history of safety excellence,” plant manager Lisa Grenier wrote in an email.
Last year, Kraft introduced a company-wide initiative called Integrated Lean Six Sigma, to “drive business simplification and redefine efficiency.”
“This initiative has further reinforced our commitment to safety and has given us new tools and processes to make us even better,” Grenier wrote.
The peanut plant is Kraft Foods Group’s first STAR worksite in Virginia and one of six around the nation, and can now fly the STAR Worksite flag.
The Voluntary Protection Program also includes the Merit level of participation, which is a step lower than STAR, and similar voluntary protection programs operate in states across the country.
When businesses participate in Voluntary Protection Programs, safety and health protections are improved for “thousands of Virginia employees through cooperative efforts to reduce injuries, illnesses and fatal accidents,” according to Davenport.
STAR worksites regularly report lower bottom line costs by reducing injury and illness rates, and improving productivity and employee morale.
“Reducing private sector employer costs associated with injuries, illnesses and fatal accidents enhances a company’s economic viability and competitiveness, and increases available capital for reinvestment, expansion and new hiring,” according to Davenport.
The department also runs the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, for businesses with 250 or fewer employees.
Businesses interested in joining one of the two department programs can contact the department’s Tidewater region office on 455-0899. The office is located in Norfolk at 6363 Center Drive, Suite 101.