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For Immediate Release
November 4, 2003

Contact for more Information:
Kevin Weeks, Oregon OSHA, 503-947-7428

James Malone, Georgia-Pacific Corporation, 404-652-6031

Georgia-Pacific Coos Bay mill achieves VPP Star recognition

The Department of Consumer and Business Services today presented 'VPP Star Award' status to the Georgia-Pacific Coos Bay sawmill and planer facility. The Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) is a workplace safety and health management program that encourages employers to voluntarily meet rigorous workplace safety standards to protect workers and reduce injuries.

"VPP Star status represents the highest achievement for workplace safety and health that Oregon OSHA recognizes," said Peter De Luca, administrator of the DCBS Occupational Safety and Health Division (also known as Oregon OSHA). "This mill has become self-sufficient for its workplace safety and health program because management and employees together ensure this is a safe place to work. Safety has been transformed from a priority to a core value. It speaks well of Georgia-Pacific's commitment to safety that they have three of the eight VPP sites in Oregon."

"At Georgia-Pacific, safety is our first priority. Nothing is more important," said Fritz Mason, group manager of Georgia-Pacific's western lumber operations. "A critical component in developing a safe work place is employee involvement - the VPP process recognizes this. The Coos Bay team has done an outstanding job developing their safety program and culture; it is truly led by the employees. Receiving this award, the highest safety honor offered by Oregon OSHA, is a tribute to everyone's efforts."

The three-year average for the number of injuries where a day of work was lost or restricted at the Coos Bay mill is 85 percent lower than the state average for sawmill and planer facilities.

To achieve VPP status, a work site must have a three-year average injury and illness rate that is at or below those of other employers within their industry. The work site also undergoes an extensive Oregon OSHA review of workplace conditions, safety records, employee safety and health programs, and regulatory compliance, which includes interviews with employees. Evaluators review nineteen program elements including management commitment to safety, employee participation, self-inspection, safety and health training, emergency programs and drills, and preventative maintenance. Oregon OSHA's VPP employers are removed from routine scheduled inspection lists for the duration of their participation. Employees do not lose any rights under the program, and Oregon OSHA still investigates accidents, formal complaints and chemical spills.

The mill was recognized by the Oregon OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in March 2001. The management and employees at the Coos Bay mill made the commitment to participate in the Voluntary Protection Program, and were awarded VPP 'Merit' status in May 2002. 'Merit' sites accomplish most of the safety and health management principles of the Voluntary Protection Program and require additional work to reach 'Star' status.

An Oregon OSHA VPP evaluation team visited the Georgia-Pacific Coos Bay facility in August 2003 and found that the safety and health program management system continues to exceed Oregon OSHA requirements. The evaluation team recommended that Georgia-Pacific Coos Bay be awarded VPP 'Star' status.

The Georgia-Pacific Coos Bay mill employs 120 people, over sixty percent of whom are actively involved in safety and health management programs at the facility. The mill produces up to 200 million board feet of dimensional cut Douglas fir lumber products annually.

There are currently eight VPP sites in Oregon. The additional VPP sites are Georgia-Pacific Toledo pulp and paper mill, Georgia-Pacific Philomath mill, Frito-Lay Beaverton, Kerr McGee Chemical LLC in The Dalles, Timber Products Spectrum Division (TP Spectrum) in White City, PW Pipe in Eugene and Marvin Wood Products in Baker City.

For more information about involvement in the VPP or SHARP programs, contact Mark Hurliman, Oregon OSHA VPP/SHARP program coordinator at 503-947-7437.