|For Immediate Release||July 13, 1999|
|Media Contact:||Julie Petersen (803) 725-2889|
Aiken, S.C. - In separate ceremonies at the Savannah River Site (SRS) today, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Worker Health and Safety, Joe Fitzgerald, presented awards to SRS contractors, Wackenhut Services, Inc. (WSI) and Westinghouse Savannah River Company (WSRC), for significant achievements in DOE's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).
The Department initiated its VPP in January 1994 to promote excellence in occupational safety and health performance through cooperative efforts among labor, management, and government and to provide for public recognition of outstanding safety and health programs at DOE sites. The DOE program was modeled after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's VPP program that has been used effectively in private industry to identify and promote excellence in safety and health. The safety and health of contractor and federal employees are high priorities for the Department.
"Through the hard work and dedication of the workers and managers of WSI and WSRC, the Savannah River Site has become an example for safety and health excellence for the DOE community. I am proud to be here today to officially recognize your accomplishment," said Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Fitzgerald, in making the VPP recognition presentations.
In a ceremony held today at SRS, Wackenhut Services, Inc. was presented STAR recognition for its numerous achievements in the area of employee safety and health. WSI is the first security contractor within DOE and the private sector to achieve this prestigious award. "Today is a red letter day for Wackenhut at the Savannah River Site. Achievement of STAR status places us in the company of America's best companies in terms of safety and health performance," said Dr. Lawrence Brede, Jr., WSI Senior Vice President and General Manager, in accepting the STAR recognition for WSI. "We owe this significant achievement to the extraordinary efforts and commitment of our employees. They have progressed from employee involvement in safety to employee ownership of our safety culture."
In a separate Site ceremony, Westinghouse Savannah River Company was awarded MERIT status for continuous improvement in the area of employee safety and health. WSRC is the single largest employer in DOE and the private sector to achieve VPP recognition. "Our safety record has always been a source of pride for our people. This award shows that we are dedicated to working safely and to improving the safety of the Site every day. With the help of each person, we can continue to get better and serve as a model for other sites across the country," said WSRC President Ambrose Schwallie, in accepting the MERIT recognition for WSRC.
There are three categories of VPP recognition: STAR, MERIT, and DEMONSTRATION. Contractors whose programs meet the requirements for outstanding safety and health programs receive STAR recognition, the highest level. Contractors with highly effective programs, who commit to attain STAR status within a five-year period, receive MERIT recognition. The DEMONSTRATION category permits VPP participation by contractors with excellent safety and health programs who have unique or unusual work environments needing further DOE study.
The basic elements of DOE's Voluntary Protection Program are: Management Leadership, Employee Involvement, Worksite Analysis, Hazard Prevention and Control, and Safety and Health Training. STAR sites are reevaluated every three years, while MERIT and DEMONSTRATION sites are evaluated annually.