IR # 96-45
Thursday, November 21, 1996

Rick Rice
Troy Swauger
(415) 972-8835

Tropicana Named VPP Recipient by Cal/OSHA

SAN FRANCISCO-- Tropicana, the national orange juice manufacturing and distribution company, has been named a recipient of the California/Voluntary Protection Program (Cal/VPP), one of the state's highest distinctions for companies that have achieved excellence in health and safety protection, California Division of Occupation Safety and Health Chief John Howard announced today.

"What we are recognizing today is that Tropicana has far exceeded industry standards concerning health and safety levels for its 107-employee City of Industry workforce," Howard said. "Tropicana should be held up as an example of what California industry can achieve and be commended for its commitment and dedication to the safety of each of its workers."

The unique Cal/VPP program was designed by Cal/OSHA Consultation Services to offer recognition to California companies that complete higher-than-normal safety and health systems to control occupational hazards. Before a company gains the coveted Cal/Star recognition, the higher of the two Cal/VPP levels, Cal/OSHA Consultation Service inspectors can spend months reviewing safety measures and program procedures established inside the company.

"Attention to safety within the workplace is one of the essential traits of a successful company in today's competitive environment," Howard added. "We look forward to the company's continuing emphasis on workplace safety."

While initiated in the 1970s as the Cooperative Self-Inspection Program, and copied as a federal program, the revamped Cal/VPP review began two years ago. Only four other companies in California have gained the Cal/VPP recognition: Tenneco Packaging, a plastics fabrications company in Bakersfield; BASF, a manufacturer of polystyrene resin pellets from Santa Ana; Gillette, a writing instrument manufacturer in Santa Monica; and GE Flight Test Operations in Mojave.

"The City of Industry facility supports our entire West Coast business," said Gary Rodkin, president of Tropicana Dole Beverages North America. "The CI team has been instrumental in making Tropicana and Dole juices the category leaders, yet they generate this growth while maintaining extremely high safety standards."

One of the benefits gained by Tropicana in its quest to reach the Cal/VPP list is that the company's injury and illness rate, a benchmark of a company's health and safety level, is well below the industry average. Participation in the Cal/OSHA program is based on having had, over a three-year period, injury and illness incidence and lost workday rates below the state average for the specific industry. Tropicana's incidence rate from 1992 to 1994 was 7.25, a full 20 points under the industry average of 27.7. Even more impressive is the company's lost workday rate during the same period of 1.51, compared to the industry average of 15.36.

Howard said typically companies with the better injury and illness rates enjoy lower workers' compensation premium costs. Traditionally, companies have boasted they have seen an increase in worker productivity and find they are better off, strategically, to gain an ISO9000 rating. Also, while companies are still subject to complaint or accident investigations by Cal/OSHA inspectors, those which achieve the Cal/VPP recognition are exempt from routine compliance inspections.