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A water and wastewater system operated by CH2M HILL OMI for the city of Rio Rancho, N.M., has earned the New Mexico Environment Department Occupational Health and Safety Bureau's highest designation for workplace safety -- the "Zia Star" status in its Voluntary Protection Program.
Rio Rancho is the first CH2M HILL OMI-operated municipal water and wastewater system to be recognized with VPP status. The site is one of seven CH2M HILL OMI facilities to achieve top safety awards through the first half of this year.
The Zia Star Voluntary Protection Program is New Mexico's version of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program, with program elements that mirror federal OSHA.
OSHA VPP recognizes and promotes effective workplace safety and health management. To earn VPP status, companies must have a high degree of management support and employee involvement; high-quality worksite hazard analysis, prevention and control programs; and comprehensive safety and health training for all employees. Each of these elements must be in operation for at least one year before a company can apply to join the VPP. Government safety and health experts also conduct rigorous on-site evaluations and audits of proposed VPP sites.
"This is like winning the Super Bowl of safety," says Mark Lasswell, CH2M HILL OMI president. "The 'Zia Star' designation reflects the excellence of our companywide practices to ensure safety is our priority consideration as we plan and execute all work activities for and with our municipal and industrial clients."
Since 2002, more than 60 CH2M HILL OMI technical experts have operated and maintained the city of Rio Rancho's water and wastewater system, which includes 22 wells, 13 reservoirs, six wastewater treatment plants and a water treatment plant. New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau officials will present a VPP flag and plaque to the team at a ceremony to be held later this summer.