Coca-Cola North America's Northampton, Mass., beverage plant is the company's first New England worksite to achieve "Star" status, or the highest level, in the prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Agency officials, and Coca-Cola employees and management celebrated the achievement in a flag-raising ceremony held recently at the plant.
The VPP recognizes worksites, such as Coca-Cola, that are committed to effective employee protection beyond the requirements of OSHA standards and encourages cooperative relationships among labor, management and government.
"Coca-Cola and its employees here in Northampton are to be congratulated on this milestone," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator in Boston. "Their proactive commitment to workplace safety and health has resulted in injury and illness rates far below the industry average."
The Northampton plant, which packages juices and other noncarbonated beverages, has 170 employees. Its "Star" designation followed an OSHA team's week-long onsite review that found the facility's safety and health management systems consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants. The plant now joins more than 1,957 worksites in 270 industries nationwide, including 32 sites in Massachusetts, that have earned entry into the VPP.
Through the VPP, employers and employees have experienced significant decreases in fatalities, injuries and illnesses; associated cost reductions including lowered workers' compensation expenses; positive changes in company culture and attitudes toward safety and health; and average injury rates 50 percent lower than other employers in their respective industries.