L.L. Bean Manufacturing in Brunswick has been certified to participate in the prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) of the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It now joins more than 1,869 other worksites, including 14 in Maine, that have earned entry into the VPP.

“We’re pleased to welcome L.L. Bean into a merit program that recognizes those worksites willing to go the extra mile and invest their time, resources and commitment to enhancing safety and health for their employees,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator. Al Morrissey, OSHA’s assistant regional administrator for cooperative and state programs, presented company officials with a VPP flag in a ceremony today at the Brunswick manufacturing plant.

The Brunswick plant has more than 300 employees engaged in the manufacture of footwear, canvas tote bags, fleece outerwear and other consumer textile products. It was certified as a VPP "Merit" site following an OSHA team's week-long on-site review of its application and safety and health programs, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the plant which found its safety and health programs consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants.

"Having achieved the 'Merit' designation, L.L. Bean’s Brunswick plant now has the opportunity to go further and seek 'Star' status, the VPPs’ highest level," said Kent.

The VPP provides an opportunity for companies to develop and maintain effective employee protections beyond the requirements of OSHA standards. Through the VPP, employers and employees have experienced significant decreases in fatalities, injuries and illnesses; associated cost reductions including lower workers' compensation expenses; and positive changes in company culture and attitudes toward safety and health.

The VPP is open to deserving employers in any industry. Requirements include a strong 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.