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Sumner mattress plant recognized for workplace safety

TUMWATER – Simmons Manufacturing Company in Sumner has reason to celebrate - the mattress maker has been accepted as a participant in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which recognizes companies demonstrating a significant commitment to workplace safety and health.

VPP is a program of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), but in Washington state it is administered by The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and its Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).

Michael Silverstein, DOSH assistant director, will present a VPP flag and certificate to Simmons at a ceremony today at the Simmons plant. The company will be designated as a STAR site, signifying it has achieved the highest VPP level.

“At DOSH, we work hard to encourage businesses to improve workplace safety and health, and VPP is one way we do this,” Silverstein said. “The safety program at the Simmons plant demonstrates that when management and employees work together, they can develop an effective safety and health program that benefits everyone.”

To participate in VPP, companies must already have an excellent safety record. Simmons’ human resources manager Robert Gray said the company has a corporate philosophy that encourages workplace safety and several other Simmons facilities have previously achieved VPP status.

Before granting the VPP status, L&I safety and health consultants toured the Simmons plant, reviewed its safety programs and interviewed nearly half of the employees.

“For us, the key was the cooperation between departments, changing the paradigm that says safety belongs to one group. Everybody at every level was involved at some point in VPP,” Gray said. “This is a huge deal and it’s just the beginning. Now, we work to improve what we have in place.”

Simmons Manufacturing is the third Washington state business so far this year to earn first time VPP status. The others include the Hampton Lumber Mill in Darrington and Burlington Environmental in Tacoma. Businesses interested in learning more about VPP and the benefits it can offer should visit www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/AtoZ/VPP/.

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

Broadcast version: The Department of Labor and Industries will present a safety award to a Sumner mattress manufacturing plant today. The Simmons mattress plant, which has about 100 employees, earned STAR status in the Voluntary Protection Program, a federal safety recognition program administered in Washington state by L&I. To earn this honor, the plant had to undergo a rigorous safety audit that included extensive site visits by L&I safety consultants. To learn more about the Voluntary Protection Program, visit www dot Lni dot wa dot gov.

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