The Huber Engineered Woods LLC manufacturing facility in Easton, Maine, has been certified to participate in the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) of the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The facility, which manufactures reconstituted wood panels for roofs and flooring, was certified as a VPP "Merit" site following an OSHA team's on-site review of its application and safety and health programs, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the plant.

"The VPP provides an opportunity for companies to commit to developing and maintaining effective employee protections beyond the requirements of OSHA standards," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England. "Having achieved the 'Merit' designation, this worksite will now have the opportunity to go further and seek 'Star' status, the VPP's highest level."

The plant, which employs 140 people, now joins more than 1,600 worksites in 280 industries nationwide – including Huber worksites in Commerce, Ga.; Crystal Hill, Va.; and Spring City, Tenn. – 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 lower than other companies in their industry. The VPP is open to deserving employers in any industry.

Requirements 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.