Verso Paper Corp. Quinnesec Mill Recognized by MIOSHA for Workplace Safety and Health Excellence

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

October 19, 2011 -  Verso Paper Corp.'s Quinnesec Mill recently received renewal of its MVPP Star Award, the state's highest recognition for workplace safety and health, from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

"Verso's Quinnesec Mill is to be commended for its exemplary commitment to workplace safety and health," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "The mill management and employees have created a corporate culture where workplace safety and health are top priorities. Verso 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 only 27 companies with the MVPP Star Award, the most prestigious safety and health award given in the state. Verso's Quinnesec Mill first received MVPP Star approval in May 2001, and has since recertified three times.

"The Quinnesec Mill's continued recognition in the MVPP program, and the trust and cooperation upon which it is based, demonstrate that implementing an exemplary safety and health management system not only is an admirable goal, but it is sustainable in the long term," said Kalinowski.

"We're very proud of our MVPP Star recertification and of our industry-leading safety performance," said Verso's Quinnesec Mill Manager Adam St. John. "However, we're most proud that our people are working more safely and we're moving closer to an environment where no one gets hurt at work. To help us reach our ultimate goal of zero injuries, we're building a culture where caring and accountability are one and the same. Our leaders, at every level across the mill, are demonstrating that they care by engaging our people in the safety process. They clarify safety expectations and ‘walk the talk.'"

The Quinnesec Mill has safety teams engaged in leading the facility's safety processes and tracking performance. These teams are composed of a cross-section of people from many areas and levels of responsibility.  Their work is guided by a comprehensive annual audit called the Quinnesec Safety Survey (QSS). Using this survey, the safety teams track progress against safety metrics, identify areas for improvement and develop specific safety improvement goals that are backed by targeted action plans. The mill teams also conduct quarterly compliance audits and an annual safety data review to identify further opportunities for improvement. 

"We recently completed our Advanced Safety Leadership Forums, which were developed to challenge Verso's leaders - from senior managers to operators on the mill floor - taking safety performance to the next level," St. John added. "We used these forums to look beyond existing safety efforts to identify what's missing in our quest for safety excellence. Then we developed specific action plans to close the gaps and rallied everyone at the mill to improve performance."

As a result, the Quinnesec Mill's 2011 year-to-date total incidence rate (TIR) of 0.71 represents the best safety performance in the mill's history and first-quartile performance in the paper industry.

Verso is committed to providing safe and healthy workplaces for their employees while providing environmental stewardship that will ensure healthy and thriving communities for future generations. Three of Verso's four mills have achieved Star status in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which is a testament to their corporate dedication and commitment to health and safety excellence.

Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Verso Paper Corp. is a leading North American producer of coated papers, including coated groundwood and coated freesheet, and specialty paper products.  Verso's paper products are used primarily in media and marketing applications, including magazines, catalogs and commercial printing applications such as high-end advertising brochures, annual reports and direct-mail advertising. Additional information about Verso is available on Verso's website.

Verso's Quinnesec Mill is a state-of-the-art facility that manufactures hardwood kraft pulp and high-quality coated printing paper used in magazines and catalogs. The mill is capable of producing over 1100 tons per day of coated freesheet paper and 900 tons per day of pulp. On October 10, 2008, the Quinnesec Mill was certified to the ISO 14001:2004 environmental management system (EMS) standard.

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