CIS Presents Michigan's Highest Safety & Health Honor; International Paper's Quinnesec Mill is Fourth in State to Receive Award

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

MAY 11, 2001 - International Paper's Quinnesec Mill has become the fourth company in the state to receive the prestigious Michigan Voluntary Protection Programs (MVPP) Star award for workplace safety and health excellence. CIS Deputy Director Dr. Kalmin Smith presented the Star flag to employees at a special ceremony today on behalf of the Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services (CIS).


"I am delighted to welcome International Paper's Quinnesec Mill into this exceptional group of Michigan companies who have outstanding workplace safety and health programs," said Smith. "I admire the diligence and dedication of the Quinnesec Mill-and I salute your exemplary workplace safety and health achievement."


The CIS Bureau of Safety and Regulation is responsible for the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) program. MIOSHA established the MVPP program to recognize employers actively working toward achieving excellence in workplace safety and health. It was developed in 1996 to reward private and public sector work sites that develop and implement outstanding safety and health programs that go beyond MIOSHA standards.


"These successful MVPP companies have created a work environment where everyone accepts responsibility for safety, every day," said Smith. "The Quinnesec Mill's outstanding safety and health record demonstrates that a strong safety and health program goes hand in hand with increased production and profits."


The MVPP Program enhances MIOSHA's tradition of working cooperatively and voluntarily with industry to reduce and eliminate workplace injuries and illnesses. The two components to the MVPP Program include:


P The Star Program, which recognizes work sites that have achieved excellence in

developing and implementing a comprehensive safety and health program. With stringent requirements, this is the highest safety and health recognition in the MVPP.

P The Merit Program, which is aimed at establishments endeavoring to achieve success and excellence as typified by requirements of the Star.


Quinnesec employees raised the MVPP Star flag during the ceremony. Accepting the Star award were: Wally Blair, Environmental, Health & Safety Manager, Quinnesec Mill; Steve Hadden, Manager, Quinnesec Mill; and LH Puckett, Senior Vice President, International Paper; as well as members of the Quinnesec Mill MVPP Star Steering Team. State and local elected officials, corporate leaders, as well as CIS and MIOSHA representatives, were on hand to congratulate the Quinnesec Mill employees and management on their outstanding achievement.


The Quinnesec Mill's Incidence Rates and Lost Work Day Rates are well below the Michigan average for their industry and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code 2621, "Paper Mills." The Total Case Incidence Rate for the Quinnesec Mill was 6.35 in 1997, 6.13 in 1998, and 5.23 in 1999-compared to 8.7, 7.9, and 13.1, respectively, for Michigan.


The Total Lost Work Day Cases for the Quinnesec Mill was 1.41 in 1997, 1.65 in 1998, and 1.08 in 1999-compared to 3.4, 4.1, and 9.0, respectively, for Michigan.


"We are proud to accept this award, because safety has always been very important at the Quinnesec Mill," said Mill Manager Steve Hadden. "Achievement of the MVPP Star certification confirms that fact and provides positive recognition to all employees for their efforts."


The Quinnesec Mill is a non-traditional facility, whose management structure makes employee input vital to the success of the safety and health program. The mill has integrated the Partnership Protection Process (P3) to drive continuous improvement in their safety and health program. Employee involvement and empowerment are seen to be as effective as a traditionally structured safety and health committee in providing a safe work environment.


Very strong management commitment is evident in all areas of the safety and health program. The P3 structure provides a tool for continuous improvement of the safety management system, and incorporates a team concept to integrate safety and health into all aspects of mill operations. Members of various groups set their own goals and are expected to meet those goals.


Based on interviews with employees and observation, MIOSHA found that all employees are empowered to act on safety and health issues, and are accountable for their safety and health performance. Safety and health responsibilities are clearly spelled out and addressed in all job descriptions, and certifications are required for job advancement. Safety and health is an integral part of all performance reviews for employees at all levels. The company's decentralized management style puts substantial authority in employee's hands.


The Quinnesec Mill is a state-of-the-art facility that manufactures bleached hardwood kraft pulp and high-quality coated printing paper used in magazines and catalogs. The mill has approximately 575 regular employees, and 60 contract employees. The mill started producing pulp in 1985 and paper in 1990.


International Paper operates 10 facilities in Michigan, along with various distribution centers, and employs nearly 1,675 workers. Currently International Paper has 82 national VPP sites, the greatest number of facilities certified or recommended for certifications in the federal OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).


International Paper ( is the world's largest paper and forest products company. Businesses include printing paper, packaging, building materials, chemical products and distribution. As one of the largest private forest landowners in the world, the company manages its forests under the principles of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFIK) program, a system that ensures the perpetual growing and harvesting of trees while protecting wildlife, plants, soil, air and water quality. The company has operations in nearly 50 countries, employs more than 117,000 people and exports its products to more than 130 nations.