Paper Company Places Environment, Workers First

In 1999, International Paper reduced workplace injuries by 10 percent, while maintaining the largest number of operating sites qualified for membership under OSHA's VPP program.

International Paper, Purchase, N.Y., believes its 1999-2000 EHS report is reflective of its dedication to the environment and its employees.

Over the last seven years, the company has reduced environmental incidents by 80 percent, and during the last year and a half, reduced workplace injuries by 10 percent, while maintaining the largest number of operating sites qualified for membership under OSHA''s VPP program.

"It''s our policy to fulfill our business goal, while employing practices which enhance the lives of our employees, improve the communities in which they live, and sustain timber, wildlife and water resources," said Tom Jorling, vice president of Environmental Affairs. "Exercising good stewardship through responsible resource management meets the needs of our customers, shareholders and society."

Among its environmental accomplishments, International Paper reported a 30 percent reduction in Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) direct releases during 1999 and set a new goal of a 40 percent reduction by year-end 2000.

The company is also a steward of the environment, adopting forest management principles that help promote reforestation of forestlands and the wildlife within those areas.

"International Paper realizes that a forest is more than just trees, with this in mind, employees work every day to promote an environment rich in ecological diversity," said Jorling. "They company works closely with groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation and its Women in the Outdoors program to help educate communities about the outdoors, and to sustain wildlife habitats for the future."

With regards to its health and safety goals, International Paper reduced workplace injuries by more than 10 percent in 1999.

The company believes its behavior-based safety process is an essential component in reducing injuries and illnesses.

"This process provides immediate, positive reinforcement for observed safe behaviors and immediate correction of observed ''at risk'' behaviors through a coaching process," said the company.

To promote best practices and strengthen the EHS training program throughout the company, International Paper sponsors a networking meeting for the EHS staff of each site.

The company also established EHS University in 1995, to train its employees whose duties include environment, health and safety issues.

EHS University classes are week-long sessions offered at least three times a year in different places around the country.

Introductory and advanced classes are offered in EHS regulations, management, policies and procedures.

In order to continuously improve the company''s EHS program, each business site completes a safety and health survey and program evaluation assessment annually.

For each survey completed, a corrective action plan is prepared that communicates individual responsibilities and target dates for completion of program improvement items.

International Paper said it will continue to be ambitious with its safety and health goals.

Currently, 63 of the company''s sites are recognized by OSHA''s VPP program as Star sites.

International Paper''s ultimate goal is to eventually have all sites meet the expectations for OSHA VPP status.

More immediately, the company wants to qualify 25 new sites by the end of 2000 as OSHA-approved VPP sites.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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