IR # 97-10
Friday, February 7,1997

Rick Rice
Troy Swauger
(415) 972-8835

Cal/OSHA Awards IBM with Cal/STAR Rating for Safety

SAN FRANCISCO-- California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Chief John Howard this week announced that International Business Machines Corporation's Storage Systems Division, located in San Jose, has been named a Cal/STAR participant under the California Voluntary Protection Program (Cal/VPP). The distinction is granted to companies that are achieving excellence in workplace safety and health protection.

"The designation as a Cal/STAR participant goes to companies such as IBM that have proactive programs which meet or exceed Cal/VPP standards to control occupational hazards," Howard said. "IBM's Storage Systems Division has shown a professional commitment to ensure its workplace meets these high standards. Clearly, this company is setting a benchmark for occupational safety and health in the industry."

The 427-acre IBM site contains manufacturing, laboratory and support buildings totaling four million square feet. The plant has approximately 5,000 IBM regular employees at the site.

"I'm proud of the efforts made by IBM San Jose employees to implement and maintain our outstanding safety and health programs," said Stan Ciraulo, IBM San Jose site general manager. "Being named a Cal/STAR site by Cal/OSHA is a clear demonstration of IBM's commitment to its employees, customers, and the community to provide a safe and healthful workplace."

Howard said before any California business gains Cal/STAR recognition, the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service thoroughly reviews safety measures and program procedures established by the company to ensure that they meet stringent Cal/VPP criteria. The program was designed by the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service to offer recognition to California companies that attain the higher standards.

A significant attribute of companies that have made the Cal/VPP list, like IBM's Storage Systems Division, is a less than average injury and illness rate, often a measure of the effectiveness of a company's safety and health program. Participation in Cal/VPP 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. IBM's Storage Systems Division's incidence rate in 1994, the last year of the averaging period, was 3.1, well under the industry average of 4.23. The company's lost workday rate in 1994 was 2.2, compared to the industry average of 2.3.

Typically companies with the better injury and illness rates enjoy lower workers' compensation premium costs. Traditionally, companies also see an increase in worker productivity and find they are better off, strategically, to gain an ISO 9000 rating. The ISO 9000 standard represents an international consensus on the essential features of a quality system to ensure the effective operation of any business.

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 five other companies in California have gained the Cal/VPP recognition: Tropicana, the national orange juice manufacturer and distributor; 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.

Continued participation in Cal/STAR-Cal/VPP is contingent upon favorable injury and illness reports, program evaluation and triennial re-evaluation by the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service. Also, while companies are still subject to complaint or accident investigations by Cal/OSHA enforcement inspectors, participants in Cal/VPP are exempt from routine compliance inspections. Any companies that would like to explore participation in Cal/STAR-Cal/VPP may contact the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service at (415)972-8517.