Motorola's Elma, N.Y., manufacturing plant has earned membership in the prestigious "Star" Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) of the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

"Our review of Motorola's safety and health management programs at this site found them consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants," said Gordon DeLeys, OSHA's compliance assistance specialist for western New York, who presented a VPP flag at a ceremony held today. "With illness and injury rates well below industry averages, this plant now joins an elite corps of 1,400 workplaces nationwide that have achieved VPP status."

The Elma plant manufactures various automotive electronic components. Its "Star" designation came after an OSHA team's thorough on-site review of its application and safety and health programs, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the worksite.

In qualifying for "Star" status, the plant verified that it had implemented programs and procedures beyond the requirements of OSHA standards with extensive involvement by both management and workers. Its written safety and health management system effectively addresses worksite hazards by identifying and tracking them to ensure their correction and control. Its safety and health training programs ensure that employees and contractors understand occupational hazards and how to control them.

Among its areas of excellence are the extensive use of emergency stop controls, pressure sensing mats, light curtains and other safeguards to reduce machine guarding hazards, and frequent job rotation to reduce the potential for ergonomic injuries.

OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs offer employers an opportunity to move beyond traditional safety programs by recognizing participants that successfully incorporate comprehensive safety and health programs into their total management systems. VPP companies achieve average injury rates 50 percent lower than other companies in their industry. The programs are open to deserving employers in any industry.

Requirements for application to VPP include: a high degree of management support and employee involvement, a high-quality worksite hazard analysis, prevention and control programs, and comprehensive safety and health training for all employees. Each of these elements must be effective, in place and in operation for at least one year before a company can apply to join the program.