DuPont earns elite OSHA honor

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 28, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – The DuPont Pontchartrain Works industrial site in St. John Parish has joined an elite list of companies nationwide as they earned the OSHA “Star” Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) designation, with a special ceremony held this week to raise a flag to commemorate the achievement.

DuPont began work in 2006 to reach the special designation, which sets those business sites on a special pedestal for achieving a rigorous list of safety standards, beyond what normal OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards are.

Plant Manager Guy Tenini said it was an incredible team effort, spearheaded by employees at DuPont, who helped reach the milestone.

“I’ve been with DuPont for a long time, but quite honestly, this was one of the most rewarding things I’ve been associated with. This is all about protecting people,” he said. “And there is nothing more rewarding than when a group of people get together and do something they’ve never done before.”

The DuPont team had to begin from scratch to, at first, understand what it would take to reach the VPP Star designation.

Marathon Refinery in Garyville is one other local industry with the designation, and they provided support for DuPont to understand the process, then assist when needed.

The DuPont employees had to show OSHA that they had moved beyond traditional safety programs by recognizing participants that successfully incorporate comprehensive safety and health programs into their total management systems.

VPP companies achieve average injury rates that are 50 percent lower than other companies in the industry.

Requirements for application to VPP include a high degree of management support and employee involvement, a high-quality work-site hazard analysis, prevention and control programs, and comprehensive safety and health training for all employees.

Each of those elements must be effective, and in place, operating for at least one year before the company can apply to join the program.

“DuPont has always tried to be the best good neighbor in a community that we can,” Tenini added. “But the VPP Star program goes above and beyond what is required by OSHA in their normal safety requirements.

“This designation will help us to continually operate without injuries, which is our top priority, and it shows what a great bunch of employees we had to step up and do the work that was needed so we could achieve this,” he said.

The Star designation came after an OSHA team’s thorough on-site review of the DuPont application of safety and health programs, as well as interviews with employees, and a complete tour of the work site.

“This honor belongs to all 150 DuPont DCSE employees at the DuPont Pontchartrain site and our resident contractor team,” Tenini said. “To develop a world-class safety program requires the commitment, participation and hard work of the entire site. I’m very proud of our team. I know that this partnership will help us continue to operate with zero injuries.”

The DuPont Pontchartrain Works site has been in operation since 1964 and has 350 employees, with 150 working for DuPont DCSE, which produces a product that is the key component in Kevlar. The remaining 200 employees work for DuPont Performance Elastomers, a subsidiary of DuPont, which produces Neoprene. The site also has about 100 contractor laborers.