The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized the 3M Company's manufacturing site in Brookings, S.D., for excellence in employee safety and health.

The plant was designated a VPP "Star" site, the highest level of recognition that OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) offer, during a recent ceremony in Brookings. A VPP Star site meets all the safety and health program elements for the VPP program, which far exceed minimum OSHA standards.

"This award validates 3M's position as a world-class leader not only in the manufacturing industry but also in the area of employee safety and health programs," said John Hermanson, OSHA deputy regional administrator in Denver. Brad Baptiste, OSHA regional VPP manager, along with Bruce Beelman, OSHA area office director in Bismarck, N.D., presented a VPP flag and plaque to the 3M staff at the ceremony.

According to Baptiste, among the most noteworthy aspects of 3M's program is the company's occupational health program. "The plant has an exceptional injury prevention program that is supplemented by a truly exemplary employee wellness system that includes on-site medical professionals, physical therapists and health fairs," said Baptiste. "It is an impressive workplace."

VPP offers employers a unique opportunity to move beyond traditional safety programs by recognizing participants that successfully incorporate comprehensive safety and health programs into their total management systems. The VPP program is open to deserving employers in any industry.

Requirements for application to the Voluntary Protection Programs, which have more than 1,300 sites across the country, include a high degree of management support and employee involvement, high-quality worksite hazard analysis, hazard prevention and control programs and comprehensive safety and health training for all employees. Each element must be effective, in place and in operation for at least one year before applying to join the program.