DATE: February 07, 2001      NO: 01-36

CONTACT: Krystyna Markiewicz PHONE: (907) 269-4958 

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Company Recognized for Strong Safety and Health Program

Commending its superior employee safety record, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development today awarded UniSea, Inc. of Dutch Harbor Merit Status under the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Voluntary Protection Program.

“UniSea realizes the importance of a strong safety and health program for its employees,” Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development Ed Flanagan said. “This award recognizes their efforts and should serve as an example of the kind of safety and health standards all companies should strive for.” 

The Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) recognizes and promotes effective safety and health management. Participation is voluntary and developed through the cooperative relationship of management, labor, and Alaska OSH at a workplace that has implemented a strong safety and health program. 

Participation in the program does not exempt the work site from OSH enforcement activities in case of employee's complaints and accident investigations. Upon reaching Merit status, the work site is removed from general scheduled inspections for the approved period of time (from 18 months up to 5 years). 

“In addition to the obvious benefits of providing a safe and healthy workplace for employees, this is another good incentive for participation in the VPP program,” Flanagan said.

UniSea, Inc., a seafood processing plant with 300 to 1,300 employees (based on specific fishing season) began operations in Dutch Harbor in 1975. They are the largest seafood processing facility in Dutch Harbor and process all species of fish and crab. UniSea President Terry Shaff, who is based in Redmond, Washington, was on hand in Dutch Harbor to receive the award, along with all site employees. 

“Receiving this award represents a major accomplishment for our employees in Dutch Harbor,” Shaff said. “The process to achieve this VPP Merit Status began in 1996 and has demonstrated a tremendous team effort by all involved. UniSea prides itself on providing a safe and healthy environment for all our employees, and this recognition shows that we are succeeding.”

Federal OSHA first adopted the VPP on July 2, 1982. The program has been offered to Alaska employers since December 1997. At the present time there are two VPP sites in Alaska under Alaska OSH. UniSea, Inc. is the second VPP site under the Alaska OSH program. BP Central Power Station (CPS) in Prudhoe Bay was first approved for VPP merit status on July 14, 1999, and then for VPP Star on October 18, 2000. The VPP Star is the highest award in that program.

Rich Mastriano, Director of the Labor Standards and Safety Division for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development presented the award. Krystyna Markiewicz, VPP Coordinator represented the OSH office.

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