The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized the management and employees of Larson Manufacturing Company in Brookings, S.D., for notable achievement in their employee safety and health program.

Larson, a manufacturer of storm doors and windows, was designated a "Merit" site in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The agency held a recognition ceremony at the facility January 10.

"Attaining a VPP merit designation can only happen in workplaces where employees and managers work together with a particular focus on safety and health excellence," said Greg Baxter, OSHA's regional administrator in Denver.

One noteworthy aspect of Larson's program includes a highly evolved employee health and wellness program with significant dedication to improvements in the surrounding community.

"Larson has an extensive fitness and recreation center on site, as well as health screening programs for employees and family members," said Brad Baptiste, OSHA's regional VPP manager in Denver, who presented a VPP flag and plaque to the Larson team during the ceremony. "The company supports community-based improvement projects such as parks, trails and the arts," he added.

The VPP offers 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. The VPP program is open to deserving employers in any industry.

Requirements for participation in the VPP, which has more than 1,860 worksites nationwide, include a high degree of management support and employee involvement, a high-quality worksite hazard analysis, hazard prevention and control programs, and comprehensive safety and health training for all employees. Each of these elements must be effective and in operation for at least one year before an employer may apply to join the program.