Each year, our safety team crosses the state visiting hundreds of Approach clients. As a group, our clients have a strong focus and dedication to safety, but every once in a while one rises above and stands out as a true leader in workplace safety.

This happened two years ago when Holly Markee, assistant safety director at Approach, visited Champion and Associates Inc. in Auburn, a manufacturer of cranes for general industry use. She was immediately impressed, saying, “Through the years, it’s been rare to come across a company that has such an excellent safety program already in place. I was on my very first visit with this client when I suggested that they consider applying for the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) through L&I.”

The VPP is described by L&I as “the standard of excellence in workplace safety and health.” Indeed, companies must apply to participate and then go through a rigorous inspection process. It can take years to achieve certification, followed by inspections every three to five years.

Champion took the challenge head-on, meeting weekly for a year to complete the initial application process. Next came a series of intense safety and hygiene inspections, during which employees were questioned and programs were evaluated. This led to a laundry list of items for employees to tackle over several months:

  • Conducting employee performance evaluations
  • Developing a job hazard analysis (JHA) for each job, including office positions
  • Adding preventative maintenance procedures for equipment
  • Developing a tracking system for training and preventative maintenance

Approach would like to congratulate Champion and Associates for their hard work, which is being recognized this month with their formal induction into the VPP!

If you’re wondering why your company may also want to invest in the VPP process, consider this: you avoid surprise workplace inspections and in the years since Champion and Associates began working towards certification, their workers’ comp rates have dropped by nearly half. In 2015, they were being charged 38 percent more than the average manufacturing firm, while this year they are paying 27 percent below average.

Champion was inducted to the program on October 11, 2018. Contact us if you’d like more information about the VPP or to request a visit from our safety team.