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For immediate release: 
December 11, 2001
For more information: 
Steve Corson, 503-947-7868


Philomath -
Employees from Georgia-Pacific West, Inc.'s Sawmill and Planer (G-P Philomath) have earned the plant recognition as a "Star" participant in Oregon OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). The mill is one of only 3 "Star" sites, and one of 4 VPP sites in Oregon.

G-P Philomath has 147 employees who are very active in the company's safety and health program. Site management continues to be very pro-active toward safety and health, placing a strong emphasis on safe work practices. Employees have a variety of opportunities to be meaningfully and substantially involved in all parts of the company safety and health program. Together, management and labor at the facility have created a workplace culture where safety is no longer just a priority, it is a core value for each and every employee.

The mill is the first facility in Oregon to "graduate" from Oregon OSHA's Safety & Health Recognition Program (SHARP) into the VPP. The facility was awarded SHARP status in early 2000, and then attained "Merit" status in VPP during November of 2000. An Oregon OSHA VPP evaluation team visited the site in October of 2001 and found that the safety and health program management system at G-P Philomath continued to exceed Oregon OSHA requirements. They observed that the various safety and health related programs as well as safety and health conditions at the site were well above average for the industry.

"Star" status is the highest level attainable under the VPP program. To achieve VPP "Star" status, a worksite must have a three-year average injury and illness rate that is at or below those of its industry. The worksite must also undergo extensive Oregon OSHA reviews of workplace conditions, safety records, employee safety and health programs, regulatory compliance, and personnel interviews.

Oregon OSHA's VPP companies are removed from routine scheduled inspection lists for the duration of their participation. Employees lose none of their rights under the program, and Oregon OSHA will still investigate accidents, valid formal complaints and chemical spills. Oregon's Voluntary Protection Program recognizes and promotes effective safety and health management. The VPP concept recognizes that enforcement alone can never fully achieve the objectives of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

For more information about G-P Philomath, contact Melodie Ruse at Georgia-Pacific Corporation, 404- 652-4747. If you have questions regarding the VPP, please contact the Oregon OSHA VPP coordinator, Mark E. Hurliman at 503-947-7437, or toll free in Oregon at 1-800-922-2689. Information is also available on line at www.orosha.org. Click on "Grants/Programs" and then the VPP Program link.