By Jennifer Tanner

CLYATTVILLE -- The local plant for Georgia Pacific Proprint was recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program at an afternoon ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Employees, elected officials and representatives from OSHA and GP headquarters were at the facility in honor of the event.

At the ceremony, OSHA area director John Deifer presented plant manager Joe Morgan with a plaque and a flag to fly over the facility.

GP Proprint is one of the world's leading manufacturers and marketers of paper products and related chemicals. The local plant prints liners for use in food and beverage, container and general manufacturing.

The Star designation GP Proprint received is one held by only 71 other manufacturing facilities in Georgia and 1,350 in the U.S. It is one of eight GP packaging facility and 70 GP facilities total to achieve this status.

To attain Star VPP recognition, a facility must be invited to apply then meet the VPP's performance-based criteria for health and safety before successfully participating in rigorous inspections.

VPP brings together management, employees and OSHA to recognize exemplary safety and health programs that are an integral part of manufacturing business operations. Its impressive statistics have proven its benefits. The additional safety precautions it requires mean fewer injuries and illnesses as well as improved efficiency. According to OSHA statistics, the average VPP worksite

has a case rate that is 52 percent below the industry average.

The local GP Proprint went through VPP relatively quickly due to its already high standards for safety and health. The application process was completed in January, an inspection was made recently and because met all requirements to receive the Star designation, the ceremony was set for the end of September.

Hourly employees like Jason Keeling believe that the VPP was tough, but will prove beneficial.

"Everybody feels better about coming to work because we know that we will be going home at the end of the shift," he said.

It will now be required to submit annual self-evaluations and undergo periodic on-site re-evaluations in order to maintain its Star status.

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