Gwinn company gets MIOSHA award

Today, Potlatch Land & Lumber was awarded the MVPP Star Award, the state’s highest workplace safety and health award, from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

“Potlatch Land & Lumber long-time commitment to workplace safety and health sends a strong message to other Michigan companies,” said LARA Deputy Director Stephanie Comai. “They have created a corporate culture where workplace safety and health is consistently held as a top priority. Their record shows that a safe workplace provides the foundation for a productive workplace.”

MIOSHA established the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program (MVPP) program in 1996 to recognize employers actively working toward achieving excellence in workplace safety and health. Since 1999, Michigan has recognized 29 MVPP Star companies. This is the most prestigious safety and health award given in Michigan.

Potlatch’s incidence rate and lost work day rate are well below the Michigan average for their NAICS Code: 321113 – Sawmills. Their total case incidence rate (TCIR) was 1.4 in 2009, 0.7 in 2010 and 2011, compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average of 7.1 in 2009, 6.9 in 2010 and 2011. The total day’s away/restricted cases (DART) rate was 1.4 in 2009, 0.0 in 2010, and 0.7 in 2011, compared to the BLS industry average of 3.6 in 2009, 3.8 in 2010 and 2011.

“National VPP sites experience 60 to 80 percent less lost work day injuries than would be expected of an average site in their industry,” said Yoder. “Not only does the MVPP program significantly reduce injuries and illnesses – it also has a tremendous impact on the bottom line.”

The MIOSHA MVPP Review Team consisted of Doug Kimmel, Team Leader; John Bodnar, Senior Safety Specialist; and Curtis Johnson, Senior Industrial Hygienist. During the review, the team conducted 16 formal and 18 informal interviews. The team examined various elements of the safety and health management system, and found them to effectively address the scope and complexity of the hazards at the site.

Potlatch employs 135 workers and produces 2” x 4” and 2” x 6” wood studs that are sold to lumber yards, wholesale distribution operations, and related retail operations. The facility has an exemplary safety and health record, and has exhibited outstanding leadership in recognizing that a comprehensive safety and health system is critical to successful businesses today.

The MVPP assists employers and employees by providing a mechanism and a set of criteria designed to evaluate and recognize outstanding safety and health management systems. The program is designed to establish a cooperative relationship between management, labor, and MIOSHA. MVPP participants implement safety and health management systems that provide protections beyond what is required by MIOSHA standards.

There are two levels of recognition in the MVPP. The Michigan Star program is designed for workplaces that have an exemplary safety and health management system with injury and illness incidence rates below the industry average for the last three years. The Rising Star program provides the “stepping stone” for those establishments that have the desire and potential to achieve Star Status within one to three years. Rising Star participants have a good safety and health management system and have incidence rates at or below the industry average for two out of the last three years.

Current Star sites are available to mentor other companies that have an interest and desire to improve their safety and health management system. Mentors inform, counsel, train, and strive to achieve excellence in safety and health through the MVPP.

According to LARA, Potlatch Corporation, located in Gwinn, Michigan, is a verified leader in sustainable forestry. With approximately 1.42 million acres certified to FSC® standards, Potlatch grows trees, sells timber, and manufactured solid wood products. Since 1903, Potlatch has sought the common ground that enables them to unlock the value of their lands while conserving forests for generations to come. More information on Potlatch is available at