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Dow Chemical Plant Receives Michigan's First Star

Dow Chemical Co.'s Cal/Mag Ludington Plant has become the first chemical manufacturer in Michigan to receive the prestigious Michigan Voluntary Protection Programs Star award for workplace safety and health excellence.

Kalmin Smith, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services (CIS), presented the Star flag to the company and its employees at a special ceremony. Jeff Contardi, EH&S delivery leader, and Lisa Rokosky, Allen Arneson, Greg Dykstra and Rick Treesh, EH&S employees, accepted the award.

"The Dow Chemical Co. is an outstanding corporate leader in Michigan, and we're honored to present the Dow Ludington Plant with Michigan's highest safety and health award," Smith said. "Their exceptional leadership in safety, health and the environment is a strong corporate example for all Michigan businesses."

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.

"We have a corporate policy that states protecting people and the environment will be part of everything we do and make," said Mike Miller, manufacturing leader, Dow Ludington Plant. "We are extremely proud that our employees are being recognized for their outstanding efforts and leadership to continuously improve our safety and health performance."

The site uses Dow Global Work Process and complies with MIOSHA safety requirements as well as approximately 60 corporate safety standards. Based on interviews with employees and observation, MIOSHA found that Ludington's 240 employees are empowered to be "safety directors," and integrate safety and health into all aspects of their operations. Strong safety and health leadership was evident in all phases of the management system, and there was a clear sense that employees recognize that safety is a core company value that will not be compromised.

Approximately 140 employees are represented by the United Steel Workers of America, Local 12773, and union and management confirmed that they work together toward mutual goals. All employees take "ownership" of the site's safety and health management system, and all employees are encouraged to take a proactive personal interest in hazard prevention and control. There is an electronic safety suggestion program, as well as a near-miss reporting and tracking system.

Contractors are required to have a comprehensive safety program, with an injury/illness rate below their industry average. Contractor orientation and training includes an eight-hour safety awareness course, as well as the Dow Ludington safety orientation course. They also pre-plan each job to ensure that hazards are identified and eliminated before the job is started.

The Ludington Plant's incidence rates and lost workday rates are significantly below the Michigan average for its SIC code. The total case incidence rate for the Ludington Plant was 2.3 in 1999, 3.0 in 2000, and 2.4 in 2001, compared to 4.2, 5.3 and 5.3, respectively, for the SIC. The total lost workday cases for the Ludington Plant were 1.2 in 1999, 1.9 in 2000 and 0.8 in 2001, compared to 2.1, 2.1 and 2.1, respectively.

There are five other Dow sites in the national VPP program: Dalton, Ga.; Oyster Creek, Texas; Russellville, Ark.; LaPorte, Texas; and Plaquemine, La.

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