Bedding Manufacturing Company Honored on National Level in Pennsylvania

Simmons Manufacturing Co.’s Humboldt Industrial Park plant has earned the ‘star’ worksite designation from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The star designation is the highest honor in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). With Simmons’ plaque are, from left: Stacy Loar, sewing operator; Joe Wetzel, operations manager; Doreen Rushton, human resources manager; and Tom Charnigo, receiving department employee.

The “star” designation is the highest honor in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs.

“This certification means we as a company want to continue to grow and improve in terms of our safety and health programs through a partnership among our company, our associates and OSHA,” said Simmons’ Human Resources Manager Doreen Rushton. “For Simmons, safety is key and has always been a major focus.”

The Voluntary Protection Programs recognize employers and employees in private industry and federal agencies that have implemented effective safety and health management systems and that maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. Through the program, management, labor and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities through hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, management and worker involvement.

Simmons is crediting its employees’ dedication to workplace safety as the reason the plant was recognized.

Some employees, in turn, are turning the tables and crediting the company’s willingness to ask for their advice for the recognition.

“From before Simmons opened its local plant, the company has been committed to its employees. They hired people who were mostly from the Hazleton area and asked for employee input to help design and open the plant,” said Tom Charnigo, who works in the receiving department. He has been with Simmons since the company opened its 215,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Spring of 2004, after working for 27 years at the former Allsteel facility in the nearby Valmont Industrial Park.

“Safety-wise, Simmons asks its employees — not just the administration — to be involved,” said sewing operator Stacy Loar. “Here, everyone looks out for everyone else.”

Simmons officials credit another Hazleton area company with helping it obtain the designation.

Weir Minerals in Hazleton, which obtained the star designation in 2000 and has been recertified twice since then, helped Simmons on its path to become a star facility.

A group from Simmons toured Weir’s facility at 225 North Cedar St. several times to get ideas for safety and health improvements. Weir employees also mentored three Simmons associates on protocol for accident investigations.

Nancy Sisock, environmental and safety manager at Weir, said, “Simmons has done a great job. From seeing them a couple of years ago to where they are now, I know they’ve made a huge achievement. Since becoming part of this process, their employees have a passion for safety and I feel the company will be very successful in the VPP program,” Sisock said.

The companies have maintained their relationship and Sisock was invited to Simmons’ VPP ceremony, where she received a certificate of appreciation.

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