Wyeth Biotech, Andover-Wilmington, Mass., has become the first biopharmaceutical manufacturing and research facility in New England to be accepted into the prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA officials presented employees and management with the VPP flag in a ceremony held June 6 in Andover.

Wyeth's Andover research, development and manufacturing campus and its Wilmington administrative offices have been approved for three years of participation in the VPP at the "Star," or highest achievement, level. The VPP recognizes worksites that are committed to effective employee protection beyond the requirements of OSHA standards and encourages cooperative relationships among labor, management, unions and government.

"Biotech is a growing industry, and it's encouraging that Wyeth is at the forefront of employee safety and health, with employees and management working together on behalf of more than 1,800 employees in Andover and Wilmington," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England, who is based in Boston.

Wyeth's acceptance into the VPP followed an OSHA team's week-long onsite review. The team found that the facilities' safety and health programs were consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants, and their injury and illness rates were well below the industry average.

Among the areas of excellence identified during OSHA's review was extensive use of process hazard analysis to identify and address risks associated with new or existing processes and equipment.

"The facilities' voluntary use of process hazard analysis adds an extra layer of protection for employees," said Kent. "Analyzing, anticipating, identifying and eliminating potential hazards can prevent needless injuries and illnesses, and their associated human and financial costs."