International Paper's Sturgis Plant Receives State's Highest Safety and Health Award

Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

March 11, 2005 - International Paper's Sturgis Converting & Distribution Center received the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program (MVPP) Star Award today from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) for workplace safety and health excellence. The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG).

"We are proud to welcome International Paper's fourth Michigan Star site into this prestigious group of employers who recognize that focusing on safety up front is a sound business decision," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "Your corporate commitment to protect your workers sets the standard in Michigan and in the nation."

Kalinowski presented the MVPP Star Flag to Plant Manager Steve Knutson, who accepted on behalf of the plant's 100 employees. State and local elected officials, corporate leaders, and MIOSHA representatives were on hand to congratulate employees and management on their outstanding achievement.

"Receiving the MVPP Star award recognizes the Sturgis employees for their outstanding commitment to safety and health," said Knutson. "The partnership formed between the Sturgis facility and MIOSHA takes safety to the ultimate level, which has a positive result for all the employees and their families."

This is the most prestigious safety and health award given in Michigan. MIOSHA established the MVPP program in 1996 to recognize employers actively working toward achieving excellence in workplace safety and health. Since 1999, Michigan has recognized 17 MVPP Star companies.

The Sturgis facility's incidence rates are well below the Michigan average for their SIC code, 2679, Converted Paper and Paperboard Products - Not Elsewhere Classified. The Total Case Incidence Rate for the plant was 1.0 in 2001, 2002, and 2003 - compared to 9.6 in 2001, and 6.2 in 2002 and 2003 for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average. The Total Days Away/Restricted Cases (DART) Rate for the plant was 0.0 in 2001, 2002, and 2003 - compared to 5.7 in 2001, and 3.4 in 2002 and 2003 for the BLS industry average.

"National VPP sites experience 60 to 80 percent fewer lost work day injuries than would be expected of an average site in their industry," said Kalinowski. "The Sturgis plant's outstanding safety and health record sends a strong message to all employers that safety pays." 

The Sturgis plant has an exemplary safety and health record, and has exhibited outstanding leadership in recognizing that a comprehensive safety and health program is critical to successful businesses today. Their safety policy was developed to support the corporate safety policy - which states, "Products can be made in a safe and healthful workplace." Their company goal is zero accidents. On their road map to reaching Star status, the facility has met the rigorous MVPP Star program requirements. The MIOSHA Review Team conducted 18 formal and 10 informal interviews during the site visit. The team examined each of the five required elements of the site's safety and health management system and found the company to have an excellent system in place.

Areas of Excellence:

  • Management commitment - safety and health responsibilities are defined by the company and safety is a top priority.
  • Employee involvement - all employees are encouraged to report hazards, participate in safety inspections, and participate on safety teams. They are empowered to shut down equipment if they feel they are at risk.
  • Job Behavior Analysis (JBA) - JBA is used for baseline hazard identification and safety observation.
  • Employees are allowed to take breaks as needed during hot weather and Gatorade is provided.
  • Ergonomically safe tools - pneumatic roll pushers - are used for moving large rolls of paperboard.
  • The company maintains a Safety Compliance Calendar.

International Paper's corporate dedication and commitment to health and safety excellence is exemplified by their many facilities that have achieved Star status in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). At year-end 2004, International Paper had 77 certified VPP sites.

The Sturgis facility is a manufacturing plant, which converts rolls of paper into sheet form used primarily in commercial printing operations. There are 80,000 tons of paper converted annually in the facility. Major customers include: Hallmark and American Greetings (cards), RR Donnelley (magazines), McNaughton & Gunn (book covers), Tweedle Litho (vehicle manuals), and Pollard Banknote (lottery tickets).

International Paper is the world's largest paper and forest products company. Businesses include paper, packaging, and forest products. As one of the largest private forest landowners in the world, the company manages its forests under the principles of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (R) (SFI) program, a system that ensures the continual planting, growing and harvesting of trees while protecting wildlife, plants, soil, air and water quality. Headquartered in the United States, International Paper has operations in over 40 countries and sells its products in more than 120 nations.