The Covanta Mid-Conn Inc. trash-to-energy plant in Hartford, Conn., has been renewed for an additional five years of participation at the "Star," or highest, level of the prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The VPP recognizes worksites committed to effective employee protection beyond the requirements of OSHA standards and encourages cooperative relationships among labor, management and government. The plant's renewal came after an OSHA team's on-site review of its safety and health programs, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the worksite.

"Our review found the Hartford plant's safety and health program to be consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants while its illness and injury rates remain well below the industry average," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Employees and management are to be commended for their ongoing joint effort to ensure the safety and health of employees at this site."

The plant, which has 64 employees and first achieved "Star" status in February 2004, continues as one of an elite corps of more than 1,700 worksites in 270 industries nationwide that have earned entry into the VPP. Covanta's other VPP sites in Connecticut are Covanta Bristol in Bristol and Covanta SECONN in Preston.

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 at least 50 percent lower than other companies in their respective industries. The VPP is open to deserving employers in all industries.