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Oregon OSHA - 350 Winter Street NE Room 430 - Salem, Oregon 97301-3882
For Immediate Release
July 12, 2006

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

Willamette Landscape Services recognized for commitment to safety and health

The Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) recently welcomed Willamette Landscape Services in Tualatin to the Oregon OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). Willamette Landscape Services is the first landscape contractor in Oregon to qualify for certification in the program.

SHARP is a recognition program that provides an incentive and solutions for Oregon employers to work with their employees to find and correct hazards, develop and implement effective safety and health programs, continuously improve, and become self-sufficient in managing occupational safety and health issues. Currently, 108 employers in Oregon participate in SHARP.

"Continuous improvement in safety and health benefits everyone," said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA. "Workers come home safe to their families, productivity improves, and business costs from accidents go down. Participating in the SHARP program helps employers see those benefits right away."

During the five years leading to its SHARP designation, Willamette Landscape Services has reduced the number of lost-time workplace injuries and illnesses by 75 percent. In 2005, the company achieved an injury rate that is 55 percent below the statewide industry average for landscape employers. Willamette Landscape Services employs 60 people.

"The most important lesson our company has learned through SHARP has been the realization that it takes a lot of honest, hard work to reach all of our employees in a way that helps them stay engaged in working safely," said Matt Triplett, vice president of Willamette Landscape Services. "It took the SHARP program to focus our efforts and make us realize that we had to work on reaching out to all of our employees - a long-running successful management team and safety committee was not enough. SHARP has been a unifying point that all of our employees have been able to rally around for safety."

Membership in SHARP does not restrict Oregon OSHA regulatory enforcement. Employees retain all workplace safety and health rights contained in the Oregon Safe Employment Act. Oregon employers that have been in business for more than one year are eligible to apply for SHARP regardless of size or type of business.

"The SHARP process has helped us become a better company," Triplett said. "As any owner, manager, supervisor, or employee knows, there are a million factors to balance when you're in business. It's important to provide the most value-filled service you can to your customers, but it can never be at the expense of the health or safety of hard-working employees. We started into the SHARP consultations in pretty good shape, but soon learned that we still needed to figure out how to spread our well-intentioned safety efforts throughout the entire company. It took a fair amount of work, but with a focused action plan, we figured out how to make it happen in a big way! We are a more conscientious employer now, and I feel great knowing that we can offer safe and productive employment to everybody who works with us. We also will hold our heads high to our present and future customers because of the pride we feel about our successful efforts to provide a great place to work."

Oregon OSHA encourages employers to keep their employees and workplaces safe through a commitment to training, education, and elimination of hazards. Visit Oregon OSHA's Web site, www.orosha.org, for more information on SHARP as well as to learn how to request a no-cost consultation, sign up for training workshops, and explore the many workplace safety and health resources that are available.