Opening Comments by Jack Knott, FPA Chairman and CEO of Pliant Corporation
Good afternoon and welcome to the Flexible Packaging Association’s second annual Safety Conference.I want to sincerely thank you for being here today. Your commitment to safety in the workplace is underscored by your participation in this event. We are fortunate that FPA understands our industry’s emphasis on safety, and I’m proud of the program our Association has put together for you this afternoon and tomorrow morning.
As we all know, OSHA has greatly evolved over the past few years. Gone is the government entity involved primarily in imposing penalties on the private sector. In its place we have a NEW OSHA, which is trying very hard to work collaboratively with industry. One such example is OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program known as the VPP. Designed by OSHA to recognize and promote effective safety and health management, the VPP establishes a cooperative relationship in the workplace between management, labor and OSHA. According to OSHA, “The VPP concept recognizes that compliance enforcement alone can never fully achieve the objectives of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Good safety management programs that go beyond OSHA standards can protect workers more effectively than simple compliance.” These are powerful words with which we can all agree.
Current VPP participants have cited a variety of benefits from the program. According to OSHA, these include, “improved employee motivation to work safely, leading to better quality and productivity…reduced workers’ compensation costs…recognition in the community…and improvement of programs that are already good through the internal and external review that is part of the VPP application process.” Perhaps most extraordinary is the fact that “VPP participant sites generally experience from 60 to 80 percent fewer lost workday injuries than would be expected of an “average” site of the same size in their industries.”This could explain why the VPP has grown so dramatically in the past twenty years. When it began in 1982, there were 11 companies participating at the Federal and state level. By 2002, the number of participating companies had skyrocketed to 920. Many of our flexible packaging companies are currently participating in VPP and are experiencing positive results. If you would like more information about the VPP and how you go about applying, please see Ram Singhal, FPA’s Director of Regulatory and Government Relations, during one of our breaks.
Today we’ve convened to gain greater insight into the safety and security issues currently impacting our facilities. Aptly titled, “Incidence Free in 2003,” this year’s Safety Conference will give us an assortment of tools designed to promote safety and reduce injuries in the workplace.