Tenneco Automotive Facility is Only Second in State to Receive Honor

Tenneco Automotive’s Grass Lake Engineering Center has become the second company in the state to receive a Michigan Voluntary Protection Programs (MVPP) Star award for workplace safety and health excellence. CIS Deputy Director Dr. Kalmin Smith presented the Star flag to employees at a ceremony on behalf of the Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services (CIS).

“I am honored to present this premiere safety and health recognition to the employees and management of the Grass Lake Engineering Center,” said Dr. Smith. “We applaud the safety and health leadership exhibited at this facility. Your commitment is proof that focusing on safety up front is a sound business decision.”

The CIS Bureau of Safety and Regulation is responsible for the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) program. MIOSHA established the MVPP program to recognize employers actively working toward achieving excellence in workplace safety and health. It was developed in 1996 to reward private and public sector work sites that develop and implement outstanding safety and health programs beyond MIOSHA standards.

“Companies that establish an integrated safety and health program reap the benefits of dramatically reducing their injury and illness rates,” said CIS Director Kathy Wilbur. “Tenneco Automotive’s outstanding safety and health record sends a strong message to all employers that safety pays.”

The MVPP Program enhances MIOSHA’s tradition of working cooperatively and voluntarily with industry to reduce and eliminate workplace injuries and illnesses. The two components to the MVPP Program include:

The Star Program, which recognizes work sites that have achieved excellence in developing and implementing a comprehensive safety and health program. With stringent requirements, this is the highest safety and health recognition in the MVPP.
The Merit Program, which is aimed at establishments endeavoring to achieve success and excellence as typified by requirements of the Star.
Management commitment to safety and health at the Grass Lake facility is an integral part of their corporate culture. Corporate leadership has established accountability for plant injury-illness rates and lost workday case rates, and has provided the resources to attain safety and health goals. Tenneco’s rates are significantly below the average for automotive suppliers. Union leadership has demonstrated strong teamwork with management to ensure worker safety.

“Earning the Star designation was challenging and would not have been possible without a true team effort,” said Paul Jenkins, Tenneco Automotive Grass Lake Engineering Center facility manager. “We could not have succeeded without the help of everyone at Grass Lake, and the close cooperation between company management and union leadership.”

Employees raised the MVPP Star flag during the ceremony. Accepting the Star award were: Timothy Jackson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Tenneco Automotive; Paul Jenkins, Grass Lake Facility Manager; Jeanie Issac Phebus, Tenneco Environmental, Health & Safety Coordinator; and Doug Hopkins, UAW Local 660 Vice President. State and local elected officials, corporate and union leaders, as well as CIS and MIOSHA representatives, were on hand to congratulate the Grass Lake Engineering Center representatives on their outstanding achievement.

“Safety is a top concern at Grass Lake and the results are clearly wonderful,” said Tim Jackson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Tenneco Automotive North American Original Equipment and Worldwide Program Management. “The most recent injury-illness rate for other companies in our industry in the state was 7.1, compared with 2.0 for Grass Lake. In terms of lost workdays, Grass Lake had a rate of 0.4, compared with 5.1 for similar companies in Michigan. The attentiveness to safety at Grass Lake assures that we protect our most important resource — our people.”

Employee involvement is critical to Tenneco’s safety success. A joint management/union safety committee coordinates safety and health activities. The primary function of the committee is to locate unsafe equipment and conditions through inspections and to initiate corrections. It also serves as a mechanism that safety and health have priority over production. The plant has 225 employees (comprised of 151 salaried workers, 25 regular contract workers and 49 UAW model makers) and is represented by UAW (United Auto Workers), Local 660.

Tenneco Automotive has also implemented a Partners in Safety Awareness (PISA) Team at this site. Using a behavioral-based approach, the goal of the safety process team is to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses. Using 22 trained observers, the PISA team identifies and corrects unsafe behavior. Through daily observations, Tenneco is able to identify “at risk” behaviors and implement training to correct the problems. Additionally, Tenneco has recently formed an ergonomic team at this site.

The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code for this facility is 3714, “Automotive Parts and Accessories.” The operation focuses on research, design and testing of automotive exhaust prototypes for original equipment and after-market applications.

Tenneco Automotive is a $3.3 billion manufacturing company headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill., with 24,000 employees worldwide. Tenneco Automotive is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of ride control and exhaust systems and products, which are sold under the Monroe® and Walker® global brand names. Among its products are Sensa-Trac® and Reflex(TM) shocks and struts, Rancho® shock absorbers, Walker® Quiet-Flow(TM) mufflers and Dynomax(TM) performance exhaust products, and Monroe® Clevite(TM) vibration control components. Three plants under the Tenneco Automotive umbrella nationwide are in the federal OSHA VPP Star Program.