Johnson Technology's Norton Shores Plant Receives State's Highest Safety and Health Award

Contact: Maura Campbell 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

JULY 16, 2004 - Johnson Technology Inc.'s Norton Shores plant 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 proud to present this prestigious award to the employees and management of the Norton Shores plant, particularly since this is Johnson Technology's second Star company," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski.  "Your outstanding safety and health record demonstrates that a strong safety and health program goes hand in hand with increased production and profits."

Kalinowski presented the MVPP Star Flag to President David M. Yacavone, who accepted the award on behalf of all Norton Shores' 90 associates. Employees raised the MVPP Star Flag during the ceremony. State and local elected officials, corporate leaders, and MIOSHA representatives were on hand to congratulate Johnson Technology employees and management on their outstanding achievement.

"We are extremely proud of this achievement, which recognizes each and every associate who worked so hard to qualify for Star status," said Yacavone. "Our Norton Shores plant becomes our second manufacturing site in the Muskegon County area to achieve Star status. This is the ultimate demonstration of Johnson Technology's commitment to our workers' safety and health, while at the same time making the company more competitive." 

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 worksites that develop and implement outstanding safety and health programs that go beyond MIOSHA standards.

Johnson Technology's Latimer plant received the MVPP Star Award on July 9, 2003. The Norton Shores plant received the MVPP Rising Star Award on December 12, 2003. Star sites must have incidence rates below the Michigan average for their SIC code for three years, while Rising Star sites must have incidence rates below the industry average for two years.

The Johnson Technology Norton Shores plant's incidence rates are well below the Michigan average for their SIC code: 3724, Aircraft Engines and Engine Parts. The Total Case Incidence Rate for the Norton Shores plant was 4.5 in 2001, 2.2 in 2002, and 3.05 in 2003 - compared to 6.4 each year for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average. The Total Days Away/Restricted Cases (DART) Rate for the Norton Shores plant was 0.0 in 2001, 0.0 in 2002, and 0.0 in 2003 - compared to 2.8 each year for the BLS industry average.

"National VPP sites experience 60 to 80 percent fewer lost work day injuries than would be expected of an average site in their industry," said Kalinowski. "The Norton Shores plant's outstanding safety and health record sends a strong message to all employers that safety pays."


Johnson Technology has published and posted its commitment to safety and health throughout the facility. It includes the statement: "The implementation of this policy will receive a priority equal to production and quality." Led by President Yacavone, total staff commitment to achieving MVPP recognition was evident during the evaluation process.


To ensure safety accountability, safety has been made a line function, and safety performance receives the same percentage (15 percent) as productivity in the employee appraisal process. The company employs a "cell" work environment and a "flat" management style that ensures strong employee (associate) involvement and empowerment in all phases of company operation.


Each work cell receives a monthly scorecard that is posted in the shop areas. Factors evaluated include incident rates, JSA (job safety analyses) audits completed, safety contacts completed, cell inspections completed, timeliness of incident investigations, lapsed time to fix safety issues, scheduled training completed, and attendance at committee meetings.


Commitment of material resources to safety is substantial. All required personal protective equipment was provided in ample quantities and appropriate for the hazards present.  Comprehensive safety surveys are conducted and a sophisticated system of physical hazard controls is in place and highly effective. The company also conducts exposure monitoring on a regular basis.


Individual, cell and company-wide goals are set annually following a comprehensive audit of the safety performance and management systems. Some objectives included 35 percent reduction in injuries and lost time rates, 15 percent reduction in work-comp costs, no employee exposures to contaminants or physical agents exceeding established limits, and implementation of the ACTION program, a behavior-based tool for improving employee work practices. Employee perception of the safety and health management system is that it is continuously improving, focused and effective.


The Norton Shores plant produces turbine nozzle segments for aircraft engines. Their 90 associates annually manufacture close to 26,000 jet engine parts that are assembled into several different types of aircraft.