International Paper's Sturgis Plant Receives Renewed MIOSHA Recognition of their Workplace Safety and Health Excellence

Contact: Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

September 25, 2008 - International Paper's Sturgis Converting & Distribution Center recently received renewal of its MVPP Star Award, the state's highest workplace safety and health award, from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG).

"International Paper is to be commended for its exemplary corporate commitment to workplace safety and health," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "They have created a corporate culture where workplace safety and health is a top priority. The Sturgis facility recognizes that a safe workplace provides the foundation for a productive workplace."

MIOSHA established the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program (MVPP) program in 1996 to recognize employers actively working toward achieving excellence in workplace safety and health. Since 1999, Michigan has recognized 27 MVPP Star companies. This is the most prestigious safety and health award given in Michigan. The IP Sturgis facility first received MVPP Star approval on February 10, 2005.

"International Paper in Sturgis is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees," said Plant Manager Steve Knutson. "This vital partnership with MIOSHA has helped us establish programs and methods to engage employees for their personal safety and the safety of their co-workers."

The Sturgis plant's incidence rate and lost work day rate are well below the Michigan average for their NAICS code 322231 − Die-cut Paper and Paperboard Office Supplies Manufacturing. Their total case incidence rate (TCIR) was 0.0 in 2005, 2.0 in 2006, and 0.0 in 2007-compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average of 3.6 in 2005, and 4.8 in 2006 and 2007. The total day's away/restricted cases (DART) rate was 0.0 in 2005, 1.2 in 2006, and 0.0 in 2007-compared to the BLS industry average of 2.1 in 2005, and 3.1 in 2006 and 2007.

The Sturgis facility employs 73 workers and is considered a high-hazard operation. The MIOSHA review team consisted of Doug Kimmel, Team Leader and Safety Consultant; and Dave Humenick, Industrial Hygienist. The team examined various elements of the safety and health management system, and found them to effectively address the scope and complexity of the hazards at the site. 

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. The Sturgis facility is available to mentor other businesses in the area of safety.

On their road map to reaching Star status, the facility has met the rigorous MVPP Star program requirements. The MIOSHA Review Team conducted 15 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 include: 
  • 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). To date, International Paper has 49 certified VPP sites.

The Sturgis facility is a manufacturing plant, which converts rolls of paper into sheet form. IP Sturgis' customers use their products primarily in commercial printing operations such as greeting cards, magazines, book covers, vehicle manuals, lottery tickets, and other printed material. There are 80,000 tons of paper converted annually in the facility.

International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global paper and packaging company with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include uncoated papers and industrial and consumer packaging, complemented by xpedx, the company's North American distribution company. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs more than 65,000 people in more than 20 countries and serves customers worldwide. 2007 net sales were approximately $22 billion. For more information about International Paper, its products and stewardship efforts, visit

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