Cintas, Government Leaders Celebrate 3 VPP Sites

Posted August 22, 2016 at 4:28 pm

(l/r) Cintas GMs Coy Baldwin, Waldorf; Todd Blake, Frederick; Chad Moran, Landover; Kelly M. Schulz, secretary of labor, licensing, & regulation, Maryland Dept. of Labor; and Thomas J. Meighen, commissioner of the division of labor and industry, Maryland Dept. of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.  

Partnership lies at the heart of incident prevention. And when hourly employees, managers, corporate and government leaders work together to keep people safe, important progress can be made.

Cintas Corp. proved that point during an Aug. 15 event in Landover, MD, in which it recognized Maryland plants located in Frederick, Landover and Waldorf, for earning “Star” status from the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), an initiative sponsored by the Maryland Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MOSHA).

The awards program was held in a tent near the entrance to FedEx field – home of the Washington Redskins football team. Temperatures inside the tent were high, but so were the spirits of the nearly 300 hourly staff, managers, corporate leaders and government officials who gathered to honor the three Cintas VPP Star plants. The program included a buffet luncheon and free tours of the stadium, including the Redskins locker room.

Kelly M. Schulz, secretary of labor, licensing, & regulation,Maryland Dept. of Labor, praised Cintas and the individual plant employees and managers for partnering with MOSHA officials to raise the bar on safety. “What you have done here, both the employers and the employees, is that you have created an example of exactly what the Governor (Larry Hogan, R) is trying to create across the state,” Schultz said. “And that is partnerships between all stakeholders because we want safe and healthy work environments. But we also want economic growth. And we can have economic growth when everybody comes together for the same mission.”

Ryan Middleton, an aide to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) also praised the three VPP honorees, noting that safety not only helps employees, it benefits the bottom line as well. “This is not just about safety and avoiding lawsuits and paying disability,” Middleton said. “It’s also about responsible companies investing in their employees and in themselves. A safe working environment fosters happier and more efficient employees, who then may go on to improve the company with innovative ideas, which fosters profits.”

Todd Blake, general manager of Cintas’ Frederick plant noted that as safety improved in his facility, business performance advanced in tandem. “It should be noted that during this time nearly every business result began to improve,” Blake said. “We achieved a recent high in revenue growth as well as double-digit bottom-line growth. Safety has simply made our business better!”

All three general managers, Blake, Coy Baldwin, GM of the Waldorf plant; and Chad Moran, GM at Landover, expressed their thanks to “partners,” i.e., Cintas employees, managers and safety staff for helping the facilities achieve VPP Star status. “For my partners in Waldorf, I am so proud of you!” Baldwin said. “I am honored and humbled to speak about this accomplishment. It would not have happened without your hard work and dedication.” Moran also reminded attendees that while VPP recognition is a major milestone, the work of incident prevention continues. “This is just the beginning of our safety journey,” he said. “The ultimate accomplishment by any business is to provide a safe workplace for our partners. One injury is one too many.”

Cintas’ successful pursuit of VPP Star certifications has hinged on having each partner embrace safety awareness – not only for themselves but also for their colleagues – said Rick Gerlach, senior director of safety and health. “I’ve got to tell you that the most important ingredient, the single reason that all of us are here today to celebrate this award is that every single partner at Landover, Frederick and Waldorf care for and want to make sure that everyone of their partners goes home at the end of the day,” he said. “That is the single-biggest reason why you have achieved the VPP Star.”

Kevin Bien, sr. vice president for the Rental Division Northern Territory of Cintas, also praised the partners at the three plants, adding that continuous improvement is their next challenge. “This is a one-way street,” he said of the company’s drive to improve safety. “We’ve already decided to turn down it. We’ve already put through a lot of effort to make this work. But there’s no turning back. OSHA’s coming back in three years to make sure we’re progressing. Not holding still, but getting better and better!”

The program closed when Blake, Baldwin and Moran each received Cintas’ highest safety honor, the “Brass Ring of Safety Award.” The Brass Ring award goes to Cintas facilities that have proven that the full safety engagement of all partners has become a reality, according to a news release.

Each of the three plants that earned the VPP Star recognition also received a flag from MOSHA that they can display outside their plants to let everyone know they’ve reached the highest standard for safety that the agency recognizes. VPP Star status is a rare distinction. Only 2,155 worksites nationwide have achieved VPP out of a total of 14 million U.S. workplaces, Gerlach said. Of these, Cintas has the fourth-highest total number at 44 sites. “That’s how special you are to earn the VPP Star,” he said.