Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant Recognized for Exemplary Workplace Safety & Health Excellence

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

July 14, 2009 - The Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant, operated by United Water and the City of Wixom, received the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program (MVPP) Rising Star Award for workplace safety and health excellence from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) at a special ceremony today. The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG).

"United Water and the City of Wixom are to be commended for their exemplary commitment to workplace safety and health," said Susan R. Corbin, DELEG Deputy Director & Chief of Staff. "We're honored to recognize every worker at the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant for their dedication to work safely while providing excellent service to the citizens of Wixom."

MIOSHA Deputy Director Martha Yoder presented the MVPP Rising Star Award to Wixom Plant Manager Rick Bacon who accepted on behalf of all employees. State and local elected officials and MIOSHA representatives were on hand to recognize employees and management on their outstanding achievement.

The following officials offered their congratulations to all employees during the ceremony: Tom Brown, President, Contract Services, United Water; Bill Reedy, Vice President & Midwest Division Manager, United Water; Kanwer Khan, CSP, Environment Health & Safety Manager, United Water; and Mike Dornan, City Manager, City of Wixom.

"Employee and workforce safety are priorities at United Water and I am very proud of the importance our employees at the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant have placed on it," said Tom Brown, President, United Water. "Our employees are very conscious about safety in the workplace and we are pleased to join with the City of Wixom in this outstanding recognition."

The Michigan Voluntary Protection Program (MVPP) Rising Star Award is given to companies that have an outstanding safety and health management system in place and have the desire and commitment to achieve the highest level, the Michigan Star Award. Only employers with the best safety and health programs are eligible for the MVPP Program.

MVPP Star sites must have incidence rates below the Michigan average for three years. The Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant's rates are below the Michigan industry average for three of the past four years for their NAICS code 221320 - Sewage Treatment Facilities. As a smaller worksite, an alternative method was used to calculate the plant's injury and illness experience.

The Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant is a resident contract operation for the City of Wixom and has nine employees. The MIOSHA review team − Doug Kimmel, Team Leader and CET MVPP Specialist; Karen Odell, CET Safety Consultant; and Kristen Osterkamp, CSP, CIH, CET Industrial Hygienist − conducted eight formal interviews during the site visit. The team examined each of the required elements of their safety and health management system and found the majority to be consistent with MVPP standards. The Review Team recommended improvements in the areas of training, employee involvement and hazard prevention/control for the site to reach Star status.

United Water is dedicated to providing a safe work environment for their employees and sustainable water-technology solutions to the communities they serve. The Wixom areas of excellence include: 
  • Their Safety Goal for 2008 is "Prevention of accidents, occupationally-induced injuries." The methods for obtaining this goal are: accountability, communication, and training. 
  • All employees, including management, are held accountable for safety and health responsibilities during annual performance reviews. 
  • The company provides safety support at both the corporate and business level. A team of safety professionals (CSPs) and industrial hygienists (CIHs) are available to the site. 
  • Employees attend weekly tailgate talks, safety committee meetings, perform pre-job hazard analysis, and participate in the monthly safety inspections. 
  • Job Hazard Assessment (JHAs) are conducted for all routine work activities and they have a running open master action log noting findings from walk-around hazard surveys.

"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 Yoder. "Not only does the MVPP program significantly reduce injuries and illnesses-it also has a tremendous impact on the bottom line."

United Water provides state-of-the-art technology and research to the 32 Michigan companies and communities they serve. Since 1994, United Water has provided full contract operations, maintenance, and management services to the City of Wixom for its water and wastewater utilities. These services include water distribution, wastewater treatment, administration of the industrial pretreatment program, and customer billing.

United Water provides water and wastewater services to 7.3 million people in 21 states through the dedication of its 2,000 employees. In addition to owning and operating 25 regulated utilities, United Water operates 145 municipal systems through public-private partnerships and contract agreements including three of the nation's largest water and wastewater contracts: Indianapolis, IN, Gary, IN and Jersey City, NJ. Founded in 1869, United Water is a subsidiary of the SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT division of the SUEZ Group.

SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT (Paris:SEV, Brussels:SEVB) and its affiliates deal with the challenge to protect resources by providing innovative solutions to industries and to millions of people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT supplies drinking water to 68 million people, provides wastewater treatment services for 44 million people, and collects the waste produced by 46 million people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT has 62,000 employees and, with its presence on a global scale, is the world's leader exclusively dedicated to environmental services. In 2007, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT achieved sales revenue of 12 billion euros (19.2 billion USD). SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT is a subsidiary owned at 35% by GDF SUEZ.

Read more releases from the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth