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Portland Purdy Plant Excels Within OSHA VPP

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) were developed in 1982 to encourage companies to work alongside the government toward the common goal of improving health and safety in the workforce. According to OSHA, “The average VPP worksite has a Days Away Restricted or Transferred (DART) case rate of 52% below the average for its industry.” This discrepancy in safety incidents between VPP and non-VPP sites can be attributed to the continuous improvement processes embedded in the program.


At the Sherwin-Williams Purdy plant in Portland, Oregon, Sherwin-Williams Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Manager Joe Sypal is a strong advocate for VPP. The Portland facility has been VPP-certified since 2008 and reapplies every four years to maintain this certification. Depending on the state, VPP recertifications take place every three to five years.


“The program is all about worksite safety and health and finding ways to improve upon that. VPP has to do with relationships and how our hourly employees and managers work together to implement new tools, initiatives and processes,” Sypal explained. The site has also achieved VPP Star status, the highest level of VPP recognition awarded to participants with programs that go above and beyond the standards set by OSHA.


Underscoring these achievements, Sypal was invited by OSHA to speak at the 2022 VPP Participants’ Association Safety+ Symposium. “To maintain Star status, each site must complete an Annual Self-Evaluation (ASE),” Sypal said. “OSHA asked that we share our method for tackling the ASE at the 2022 symposium due to our standout approach with the process.” The presentation centered on the team’s divide-and-conquer approach and highlighted the importance of employee-led committees and feedback when completing the ASE. “I truly cannot overstate the importance of getting employees involved in this process,” Sypal emphasized.


The team at the Portland facility continues to plan other ways to keep employees engaged, and in 2022, the site planned events surrounding OSHA’s VPP Safe + Sound Week. This annual event gives VPP participants a chance to recognize their workplace health and safety successes and encourages these sites to engage employees through meaningful activities. Safe + Sound week events at the Portland facility included a video showcasing employee photos of safety in action, a “Why I Work Safe” quiz and an on-site shaved ice truck to celebrate employees’ commitment to progress.


“Our employees here have a lot of pride in what they do. I believe this aligns well with the idea behind VPP, and our team continues to keep safety an integral part of the culture here at the Portland facility,” Sypal concluded.


This story is featured in the Sherwin-Williams 2022 Sustainability Report.