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July 29, 2010

New safety and health recognition program honors Lakewood business

TUMWATER – With less than 40 employees, Cascades Sonoco Inc. of Lakewood is a small business that’s big on safety.

And now, thanks to its culture of workplace safety, the company has become the first Washington state business to be recognized for safety and health under the Safety Through Achieving Recognition Together program, or START, a new venture administered by The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

START is modeled on the federal Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program, or SHARP. Both programs recognize companies with exemplary safety records that have demonstrated a commitment to workplace safety.

“The goal of this program is to showcase those businesses with excellent safety and health programs as a way of encouraging other companies to improve their safety efforts,” said Lynda Stoneberg, L&I’s statewide consultation manager for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “We hope that businesses who earn START certification will be willing to mentor companies struggling with their safety challenges.”

As part of L&I’s START program, safety and health experts visited Cascades Sonoco, which produces roll wrap for paper products, to review its workplace hazards that include a die cutter and a slitting and rewinding machine. The team also examined the company’s safety and health program and interviewed both workers and managers.

“Over the past few years, we have put a lot of effort into our safety and health program,” plant manager Thomas Parenteau said. “It’s really paid off. Our work culture is safety oriented and it has had a tremendous impact on employees.”

A key requirement for companies in the START program is having an injury rate below their industry average for at least a year. While the most important benefit to companies is a safer workplace, this also can often lead to lower worker compensation rates.

Businesses that earn START status are approved for one year with up to three 18-month renewals. As long as the companies have START certification, they are exempt from routine visits by L&I compliance officers.

A plaque is also awarded to businesses that succeed in the START process. Cascades Sonoco will be receiving their plaque at a special ceremony to be held in September.

For information on START, visit www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/AtoZ/START or call 360-902-5735.

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For media information: Hector Castro, L&I, 360-902-6043.

Broadcast version: Cascade Sonoco, a plant in Lakewood producing roll wrap for paper products, is the first business in the state to be recognized for safety under a new program managed by the Department of Labor and Industries. START, which stands for Safety Through Achieving Recognition Together, is geared for small businesses with excellent safety and health programs. Participating companies invite L&I to inspect their workplace safety programs, identify hazards and make recommendations where needed. Companies who earn START certificates get a plaque and are exempt from routine inspections for at least one year. To learn more, visit www dot Lni dot wa dot gov.

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