Herman Miller Furniture Plant Earns Top Safety Award

By Rich Christianson | Posted: 03/14/2013 11:22AM


LANSING, MI - Herman Miller's metal office furniture plant in Spring Lake, MI, received renewal of its MVPP Star Award, Michigan's highest workplace safety and health award.

Herman Miller The MVPP Star Award, which has only been given to 29 companies by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) since 1999, is part of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

The MVPP, short for Michigan Protection Program, was launched in 1996 to recognize employers who work toward achieving excellence in workplace safety and health. Herman Miller's 171st Facility in Spring Lake, which employs 775 people, first received MVPP Star approval in 2006 and was re-certified in 2009.

The 171st Facility's incidence rate and lost work day rate are each well below the Michigan average for NAICS code 337214 - Office Furniture (Except Wood) Manufacturing. The plant's total case  incidence rate was 1.1 in 2009, 3.0 in 2010, and 4.0 in 2011, compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average of 3.6 in 2009, 3.8 in 2010 and in 3.6 in 2011. The facility's total days away/restricted cases (DART) rate was 0.0 in 2009, 1.0 in 2010, and 2.0 in 2011, compared to the BLS industry average of 3.6 in 2009, 3.8 in 2010 and in 3.6 in 2011.

"MVPP status is rare in Michigan - it is a rigorous process that takes commitment. This is the second Herman Miller facility to have their MVPP status renewed this year, which is very commendable," said MIOSHA Director Martha Yoder.

"Areas of excellence" noted in MIOSHA's latest review of the 171st Facility include:

  Behavior Based Safety (BBS) "Sweeps" - these are "big picture" observations that are conducted in addition to the observations performed by the shop floor BBS steering team members. The results of the sweeps are reported to management, which provides them with ideas about where to focus their efforts.

  "Busted," a proactive "safety done right" identification system - when a safety team member or member of management observes a safe act, they reward the team member with a candy bar.

  Train-the-Trainer system - on a monthly basis the safety team members and work team leaders attend train-the-trainer sessions on various safety topics. The safety team members and work team leaders then relay the information obtained during the training session to their co-workers and team members.

  Value stream walkthroughs - walkthroughs are conducted bimonthly by members of management, site safety leads, and engineers. Those leading the audits take two shop floor team members along with them to assist with the audit of the respective area. Safety updates are also discussed during the audits.

  "7 Why's" brainstorming process - "7 Why's" refers to a problem solving method that requires team members to continuously ask, "Why is it done this way?" As an example, a team member evaluation determined that the pedestal value stream has high risk ergonomic concerns. One of the more serious concerns identified involves placing counter weights into cabinets. Due to the complexity of the process, the manager of the area assembled a team to determine how to improve the process using the "7 Why's" method.

Herman Miller, based in Zeeland, MI, is a global company with operations, sales offices, dealers, and licensees in more than 100 countries in North America, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Company sales were $1.7 billion in fiscal 2012.

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About the Author

Rich Christianson

Rich Christianson is Associate Publisher and Editor at Large of Woodworking Network. During his 25+ years covering the wood products industry, Rich has toured hundreds of manufacturing plants throughout North America, Europe and Asia. His reporting has covered everything from the state of the industry and impact of wood imports to technology and environmental issues. In his current capacity he is responsible for editing the daily Woodworking Network Update newsletter and coordinating events including the annual Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and Canada’s biennial Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo. He can be contacted at rchristianson@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

Read more of Rich Christianson's blogs.

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