Alcoa Howmet Castings' Whitehall Operations Receives State's Highest Safety and Health Award

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

June 22, 2004 - Alcoa Howmet Castings' Whitehall Operations 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).


"I am honored to welcome Howmet's Whitehall Operations, Muskegon County's largest employer, into this exceptional group of Michigan companies who have outstanding workplace safety and health programs," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski.  "You are an outstanding corporate citizen!  Your exceptional leadership in safety, health and the environment sets a strong corporate example for all Michigan businesses."


Kalinowski presented the MVPP Star Award to the Whitehall Operations' Senior Leadership Team and their four health and safety professionals. Employees raised the MVPP Star flag during the ceremony. State and local elected officials, corporate leaders and MIOSHA representatives were on hand to congratulate Howmet employees and management on their outstanding achievement.


"On behalf of everyone in Alcoa Howmet Castings, I would like to congratulate all the employees of the Whitehall Operations.  Achieving the MVPP Star Award is a significant milestone in our journey towards zero work-related injuries and environmental incidents said Mike Pepper, vice president, Howmet Castings, Aerospace Sector.   The people of the Whitehall Operations have demonstrated their commitment to our core Alcoa values of continually improving our environment, health and safety performance and valuing human life above all else."


The Whitehall Operation's incidence rates are well below the Michigan average for their SIC code 3369, Nonferrous Foundries, Not Elsewhere Classified.   Their total case incidence rate was 10.1 in 2001, 5.8 in 2002, and 4.4 in 2003 compared the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average of 13.1 each of the three years.  The total days away/restricted cases (DART) rate was 2.9 in 2001, 3.1 in 2002, and 3.1 in 2003compared to the BLS industry average 7.7 each year.


"Our attainment of the MIOSHA Star award is attributable to the hard work of each and every Whitehall Operations employee…and the realization that each employee is responsible for the health and safety of themselves and others," said Amy Heisser, director of Human Resources.  "We are confident that the foundation that has been laid will continue to drive our world class safety and health program, and together we will achieve our goal of ZERO work-related injuries."


Howmet Castings is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alcoa and the Whitehall Operations employs 2,220 workers at seven manufacturing facilities and two support operations.  Production employees are represented by UAW Local 1243.  They are considered a high-hazard operation.  The MIOSHA review team conducted 24 formal and 43 informal interviews during the site visit.  The team examined each of the required elements of their safety and health management system, and found them to effectively address the scope and complexity of the hazards at the site.


"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 MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski.  "Not only does the MVPP program significantly reduce injuries and illnesses, it also has a tremendous impact on the bottom line."


Howmet Castings regards the health and safety of workers and the protection of the environment in the communities where it conducts business as a top priority.  In 2000, Alcoa acquired Howmet Castings and this association provided Howmet with a new Health and Safety Management System.  This system and other tools have been utilized throughout all levels of the organization to significantly improve the overall environmental, health and safety performance at Howmet.


Since 2000, from a safety and health perspective, there have been a number of important changes throughout the Whitehall Operations.  Employees at all levels are now focused on "risk based" factors that could potentially contribute to injuries and incidents as well as developing a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities in every workplace process.


Howmet Castings has developed specific programs for managing those processes that are identified as having the highest risk potential.  These "Critical 4" programs cover confined space entry, lockout/tagout/verification, mobile equipment and fall prevention/fall protection.  Each Critical 4 program has a management level individual assigned as a Single Point of Accountability (SPA).  The SPA takes ownership of the program by developing a tactical team, utilizing the location's health and safety professionals as a technical resource, tracking leading indicators, and ensuring all aspects of the Critical 4 programs are implemented.  The SPAs and their tactical teams have effectively taken these programs to the next level and have helped Howmet achieve a level of excellence, rather than simply regulatory compliance.


The Howmet Casting facilities and operations have also developed an aggressive ergonomics program, including  a pre-work/post-lunch stretching program; an ergonomic intervention process; and ergonomically designed workstations, equipment and processes.  In addition, their medical review systems have been dramatically upgraded to ensure employees can safely perform their work assignments.


Alcoa Howmet Castings is a world leader in the investment casting industry, providing precision-cast components of superalloy and titanium for aerospace and industrial gas turbine engines and non-aerospace applications.  Howmet is a key supplier of titanium ingots; provides component coating, heat-treating and refurbishment; hot isostatic pressing (HIP); ceramic products manufacturing; and conducts extensive research to aid development of its material, product and process technologies.   For more information go to


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