Southwire’s El Paso Plant held a flag raising ceremony on Thursday, July 26, in celebration of its achievement as a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Site through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
According to OSHA’s website, the VPP promotes effective worksite-based safety and health. The purpose of the VPP is to emphasize the importance of, encourage the improvement of and recognize excellence in employer-provided, employee-participative, generally site-specific occupational safety and health programs. In the process, these work sites serve as models for effective safety and health programs in their industries.
The facility began their journey to Star Site status in 2014 with a VPP implementation plan; however, the auditing process officially began in October 2017. Less than eight months later, Southwire’s El Paso Plant became a VPP Star Site – record time for a Southwire facility to become certified from application submission date to final VPP accreditation.
“Achieving VPP status means a lot to our facility,” said Rick Hernandez, plant manager. “We have worked hard toward this for a few years, so finally getting the letter of acceptance into the program after a few months of waiting gave us a great feeling of accomplishment.”
Employees at Southwire’s El Paso Plant worked diligently to understand and identify areas for improvement throughout the road to achieving VPP Star status. Employee engagement was also integral to this achievement throughout the auditing process. In addition to upgrades and safety modifications, the facility underwent system enhancements and hosted their local area OSHA compliance officers, including the El Paso Regional Administrator, who asked local businesses to look at El Paso’s documentation set-up as a benchmark.
“Employee involvement is the critical fulcrum to being successful, and without true, meaningful employee ownership and involvement, the process will fail,” said Daniel Evans, Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) manager for Southwire’s OEM business unit. “El Paso’s employees have been and will continue to be intimately involved and ultimately owners of the OSHA VPP program at their site.”
At the ceremony, Hernandez shared a few words thanking the El Paso team for their hard work. Congratulatory speeches were also presented by Abraham Arzola, compliance assistance specialist at the OSHA El Paso Office, and David Arrey, OSHA El Paso acting area director. Following the flag and plaque presentation, the attendees gathered for a meal and live music from a Mariachi band.