WOLF CREEK, MT – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has certified NorthWestern Energy’s Holter Hydroelectric Plant in Wolf Creek as a “Star” worksite in the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs, the highest level of recognition for workplace safety and health excellence.
Announced as part of Holter Hydroelectric’s recertification in the VPP program – now in its 40th year – the “Star” designation recognizes employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of workplace safety and health hazards, as well as the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management systems.
“NorthWestern Energy continues to exhibit a significant commitment to employee safety and health performance,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer S. Rous in Denver. “The Holter Hydroelectric site is a great example of what can be accomplished when employees, their union, the company, and OSHA work together in cooperative partnership.”
OSHA recognized that the company’s approaches to safety and health include daily meetings where employees discuss potential workplace hazards and safety controls proactively, and regular community outreach by employees at the dam and power plant in support of their emergency preparedness plans. Outreach includes annual tabletop and rotating mock drills at Holter and neighboring dams that bring together emergency responders, state road and bridge authorities, news media, the National Weather Service, and other internal and external stakeholders.
“We conduct outreach to more than 100 people on a regular and annual basis to ensure we’re prepared in the event there is ever a major issue with the facility that would threaten the workers or the public,” said NorthWestern Energy Operations and Maintenance Superintendent Jeremy Butcher. “This results in a regularly exercised program with our partners, as many of the dams are in close proximity and the same responders and major players are often involved.”
Employees at Holter Dam are regularly trained and equipped to perform lifesaving first aid, and work with local law enforcement, fire departments and contractors to ensure familiarity with the facility and access points above and below the dam to help expedite emergency responses.
NorthWestern Energy has four sites participating in VPP nationwide. OSHA initially approved Holter Hydroelectric as a VPP program participant in June 2008.
OSHA’s VPP recognizes employers who have implemented effective safety and health management systems, and that maintain injury and illness rates below national averages. VPP represents management, labor, and OSHA collaborating to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, management commitment, and worker involvement. For more information, visit OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs page.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Learn more about OSHA.