Herman Miller, Inc., Main Site Zeeland Operations Receives State's Highest Safety and Health Award

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

October 9, 2008 – Herman Miller Inc.'s Main Site Operations in Zeeland 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).

This is the fourth Herman Miller facility in Michigan to achieve Star status. The GreenHouse Seating Operations received the award in 2005, the Spring Lake 171st Avenue facility received the award in 2006, and the Midwest Distribution Center received the award in 2007.

"Herman Miller is consistently recognized as one of Michigan's ‘Best Corporate Citizens' and we are honored to recognize them today for their workplace safety and health excellence," said DLEG Director Keith W. Cooley. "Their outstanding ethic of innovation and design has made them an international leader in furniture manufacturing − their phenomenal company success will propel Michigan forward in the competitive global economy."

DLEG Director Cooley and MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski presented the MVPP Star Award to Greg Wrona, General Manager of Operations for Herman Miller, Inc., who accepted on behalf of the entire Main Site Zeeland Operations Team. State and local elected officials and corporate leaders were on hand to congratulate employees and management on their outstanding achievement.

"It is an honor to be recognized with a fourth MVPP Star award," said Wrona. "This achievement is the result of every employee's leadership and participation in our corporate safety and health programs. Their commitment to safety and health truly makes Herman Miller a great place to work."

This is the most prestigious safety and health award given in MichiganMIOSHA established the 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.

The incidence rates at the Main Site Zeeland Operations are well below the industry average for their NAICS code 337211 − Wood Office Furniture Manufacturing. Their total case incidence rate (TCIR) was 1.6 in 2005, 1.5 in 2006, and 0.9 in 2007-compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average of 6.7 in 2005, and 5.3 in 2006 and 2007. The total day's away/restricted cases (DART) rate was 0.8 in 2005 and 2006, and 0.6 in 2007-compared to the BLS industry average of 2.6 in 2005, and 2.8 in 2006 and 2007.

"National VPP sites experience 60 to 80 percent less lost work day injuries than would be expected of an average site in their industry," said Kalinowski. "Not only does the MVPP program significantly reduce injuries and illnesses – it also has a tremendous impact on a company's bottom line."

Herman Miller's Main Site Zeeland Operations employs about 950 workers and manufactures and assembles work surfaces and other office systems furniture components. The MIOSHA review team − Doug Kimmel, Team Leader and CET MVPP Specialist; Deborah Gorkisch, CET Safety Consultant; and Dave Humenick, CET Industrial Hygienist − conducted 28 formal and 59 informal interviews during the site visit. The team examined each of the required elements of their safety and health system and found them to effectively address the complexity of the hazards at the site.

Herman Miller's corporate mission is to create great places to work. A key element of their mission is to create a safe, healthy and productive work environment for their own employees. Main Site Zeeland Operations employees participate in the facility's safety and health efforts through teams, committee membership, a suggestion program and physical inspections. All of Herman Miller's West Michigan manufacturing sites are ISO 14001 certified.

Areas of excellence include:

  • Employee involvement – contests, teams, incentives, safety flash cards, safety Christmas tree, ZOPS (Zeeland Operations and Panels Plant) newsletter.
  • Ergonomics – adjustable work stations, orbital sanders, vinyl pounders (ergonomically designed hammers for applying vinyl edging onto products), arm supports for pneumatic powered screwdrivers.
  • Chemical substitution – water based products, elimination of hazardous products (fiberglass, etc.).
  • Identification of entanglement hazards – areas in the shop outlined with red paint on the floor.
  • Machine guarding.

On September 26, 2008, Herman Miller was recognized by Occupational Hazards magazine as one of America's Safest Companies (ASC). The achievement is a result of survey responses from industry professionals who selected the company for its occupational health and safety philosophy and programs and its participation in the Voluntary Protection Program.

Regardless of size or industry, the ASC program is open to companies that can clearly demonstrate that their safety process includes support from management, involvement of employees, innovative solutions to safety challenges, injury and illness rates lower than the average for their industries, and comprehensive educational programs for employees about safety-related topics.

Herman Miller helps create great places to work, heal, learn, and live by researching, designing, manufacturing, and distributing innovative interior solutions that support companies, organizations, and individuals all over the world. The company's award-winning products, complemented by furniture management and strategic consulting services, generated over $2 billion in revenue during FY2008.

Herman Miller is widely recognized both for its innovative products and business practices, having been named recipient of the prestigious National Design Award for product design from the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. In 2008 Herman Miller was again cited by FORTUNE magazine as both the "Most Admired" in its industry and among the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America, while Fast Company named Herman Miller among the world's "Fast 50" most innovative companies. The company trades on the NASDAQ market under the symbol MLHR."  For additional information visit www.HermanMiller.com.