Northrop Grumman Corporation Electronic Systems in Norwalk, Conn., has become the 14th Northrop Grumman worksite to be accepted into the prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It was welcomed into the program by OSHA officials during a VPP flag raising held October 7 at the plant.

"Today we recognize the joint commitment of more than 400 employees and management here in Norwalk who continually and effectively go beyond the status quo in providing and maintaining a safe and healthful workplace," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England. "The VPP is a challenging and demanding program but its rewards - including lower injury and illness rates - make that effort worthwhile."

The Norwalk plant, which includes about 100 employees represented by IUE-CWA Local 81244, was approved for three years of participation in the VPP at the star, or highest, achievement level, following an OSHA team's week-long onsite review of its safety and health management systems, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the plant.

OSHA found that the plant's safety and health programs were consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants, and its injury and illness rates were below the industry average. It now joins more than 2,030 worksites in 270 industries nationwide, including 19 sites in Connecticut, that have earned entry into the VPP.

Thirteen other Northrop Grumman facilities are currently in the VPP, with sites in eight cities: San Diego, Rancho Bernardo and Azusa, Calif.; Rolling Meadows, Ill.; Tallulah, La.; Linthicum, Md.; Gulfport, Miss.; and Newport News, Va.

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. 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 companies in their respective industries.