The DTE River Rouge Power Plant recently had an onsite review from the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program (MVPP) of the Michigan from the Consultation, Education and Training (CET) Division of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. River Rouge Power Plant has been working to achieve the Michigan Star designation, which is the “best of the best” in safety and health after it received Rising Star status by the program in 2009.
At the closing conference, Doug Kimmel, Team Leader and CET MVPP Specialist, said that “River Rouge was a fantastic collaboration between union and management,” which is one of the key points that they review in the process. River Rouge applied nearly two years ago and received the Rising Star status. The onsite review team told the plant that it needed to work on some cultural differences between its older employees and supervision.
According to Jerry Susterka, union safety representative, a team from the CET Division recently interviewed more than 50 represented and non-represented employees and the team was satisfied that the culture had evolved since their last visit. Kimmel said he would put in a recommendation for Michigan Star status for River Rouge to MIOSHA. Just 33 industrial sites in Michigan have achieved this status, with three DTE facilities including Milford Compression and Fermi 2.
“What makes this stand out is the type of facility and how many employees work at River Rouge Power Plant compared to the other DTE plants that have achieved this status. River Rouge Power Plant will be the first fossil fueled power plant in Mich. to achieve this status,” said Susterka. “The adversity faced by a fossil fuel plant makes it difficult to achieve. It is a big site to achieve Star status.”
The MVPP Basic Elements include Management Commitment, Employee Involvement, Worksite Analysis, Hazard Prevention and Control and Safety and Health Training. The MVPP assists employers and employees by providing a mechanism and a set of criteria designed to evaluate and recognize outstanding safety and health management systems. The program is designed to establish a cooperative relationship between management, labor, and MIOSHA. MVPP participants implement safety and health management systems that provide protections beyond what is required by MIOSHA standards.
Other DTE plants that are starting the process include the Trenton Channel Power Plant and the Belle River Power Plant. The program is proactive versus compliance and the team from Consultation, Education and Training looks at the facilities from top to bottom and makes recommendations on what needs to be fixed or changed in order to be considered for Rising Star status. To be considered for Rising Star status, the plant must have three years of being equal to or better than industry average. Rising Star participants have a good safety and health management system and have incidence rates at or below the industry average for two out of the last three years.