JM Willows, California Facility Receives Coveted OSHA Safety Award

The Johns Manville (JM) Willows, California insulation systems facility was awarded the California Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star in a ceremony on Tuesday, January 27, 2009. Out of 7 million work facilities in the United States, this important recognition has only been awarded to less than 1,800 sites since the program’s inception 26 years ago. JM Willows is also the 72nd California site out of nearly 1.25 million work sites.

The ceremony was attended by JM employees, state and local dignitaries, and leaders from the company’s headquarters location in Denver, Colo. Speeches highlighted the importance of safety and the plant’s special safety achievements. Michael Alvarez from Cal OSHA presented the VPP Star flag and plaque to the Willows team and shared some key insights into safety and the VPP program. As part of the celebration, each employee received a jacket embroidered with the Cal VPP logo

VPP is designed to recognize and promote effective safety and health management, and participants include a select group of facilities that have displayed outstanding results, programs and a healthy partnership with their facility employees and a focus on keeping employees safe. The program helps to achieve OSHA’s objective of partnership between OSHA and industry to more effectively protect workers.

Cal OSHA awarded the Willows facility’s VPP Star status after conducting a comprehensive assessment of its safety processes and procedures, and an intensive on-site audit by a five-member inspection team. “Star” status is the highest level of achievement under the VPP program, and is bestowed on facilities that have a three-year average injury rate at or below the industry average. During the workplace audit, led by Cal OSHA’s Sam Ghezavat in July 2008, the audit team reviewed workplace conditions, safety and health systems, procedures, and conducted interviews with a number of employees.

During the January 27 ceremony, Insulation Systems’ Director of Operations Jeff Gray said, “Workplace safety is a never-ending journey of continuous improvement. Today we recognize an important milestone along that journey. VPP Star Certification is an honor we can all take pride in and not just because we get to fly the VPP flag and hang the certificate on the wall. Those are great, of course, but the thing that makes today such a great day is that we’re celebrating a safer workplace. Compared with where we were before we began the VPP process, our employees are many times less likely to be injured on the job today. That’s truly something to celebrate! On behalf of JM, I’d like to thank all the great folks here at the Willows Plant who have worked so hard to earn this distinction.”

About Johns Manville

Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B), is a leading manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality building and specialty products. In business since 1858, the Denver-based company has annual sales in excess of $2 billion and holds leadership positions in all of the key markets that it serves. Johns Manville employs approximately 7,500 people and operates 40 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and China. Additional information can be found at

Johns Manville Robin Hervig, 303-978-3404