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PAULSBORO, N.J. -- Valero Energy Corp.'s Paulsboro refinery was officially honored as a "Star Site" within the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which recognizes the nation's most effective industrial safety and health programs. The facility became Valero's fifth Star Site refinery and is one of only 13 out of 149 U.S. refineries to have earned this prestigious designation.
"Safety is our top priority at Valero, and the VPP program takes our safety commitment to a new level," said Bill Greehey, chairman and CEO of Valero. "I'm proud of our Paulsboro employees' commitment to safety, and I'm proud of how hard they worked to earn their Star Site ranking. They have always had excellent safety practices that we have used to improve safety across our refining system. And now OSHA is using many of their practices as an example for other refineries working to earn their VPP certification."
In fact, during the refinery's OSHA VPP audit, four of the plant's safety practices were officially recognized by OSHA representatives as "best practices" and will be used as an example for other refineries seeking VPP certification. Those practices included the refinery's contractor safety, employee involvement, bicycle safety within the plant and housekeeping and cleanup programs. And while the OSHA VPP audits generally take four to five days to complete, and typically include a long list of follow-up items that need to be rectified before a plant can be certified as a Star Site, the Paulsboro refinery's audit took only two days and required no follow-up items.
"Our successful VPP efforts have taken the commitment of every person in this refinery, and I'm proud of how everybody has worked together as a team to make it a safety leader," said Mike Pesch, vice president and general manager of the refinery. "And while we're proud of the honors and recognition, we're most proud that these efforts are making our operations safer."
Pesch credited the VPP process with helping the refinery achieve outstanding safety performance in 2003. The refinery had no lost-time injuries and a total recordable injury rate of 0.7, which is more than three times better than the industry average. And in addition to VPP Star Site recognition, the Paulsboro refinery earned four national safety awards from the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, including honors for reducing its total recordable injury rate by 50 percent, for having a low total recordable injury rate compared to the industry, for going 1.1 million hours without a lost-time injury and for going more than one year without a lost-time injury.