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Press Release - Dow Wins National Award for Corporate Health and Safety May 17, 2000


Chicago - May 17, 2000 - The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has named The Dow Chemical Company one of three national winners in its 2000 ACOEM Corporate Health Achievement Awards (CHAA) competition.

Dow is a leading science and technology company that provides innovative chemical, plastic and agricultural products and services to many essential consumer markets. With annual sales of $19 billion, Dow serves customers in 162 countries and a wide range of markets that are vital to human progress, including food, transportation, health and medicine, personal and home care, and building and construction, among others. Committed to the principles of sustainable development, Dow and its 39,000 employees seek to balance economic, environmental and social responsibilities.

A team of occupational medicine physicians studied extensive documentation on Dow's health and safety programs, then completed the final examination and review process during an on-site visit. Components of the Dow benefits program singled out by the examiners as exemplary model practices included the following:

  • The company's extensive use of a web-based intranet for global education, training, publication of guidelines and standards, and data collection. Dow's intranet provides an exceptional and comprehensive resource for all employees by offering them immediate, continuous access to a wide range of information, including:
    • Health education and wellness materials on myriad topics
    • The written standard for Dow's employee health assessment program, frequently updated by a global team of health professionals to keep up with changing regulations and medical science advances
    • Search capabilities for the extensive toxicology database on chemicals used at Dow
    • Current training programs on such topics as the correct use of various chemicals (including asbestos, benzene, and butadiene), avoiding general workplace hazards (such as ergonomic injuries, heat stress, hearing loss, and welding hazards), and important health-related issues (e.g., behavior-based safety practices)

  • Dow's effective identification and use of experienced specialists from different company locations as "centers of expertise" to serve all programs as part of its comprehensive evaluation of workplace hazards. Health professionals routinely visit different Dow plants and work sites to contribute their knowledge and observations about employee health and safety as a way to help eliminate risks and accidents. These visits are prompted by various circumstances, including:
    • The need to review job conditions or requirements in order to create appropriate placements for employees with medical conditions
    • Required fulfillment of specific plant or department assignments given to health professionals to familiarize themselves with the processes and work being done
    • Procedure changes that might impact health-related monitoring, protective equipment needs, or other health-related concerns
    • Participation in investigations of work-related injuries or illnesses
    • Health-related questions from plant management or employees

The company's publication and use of data obtained through systematic epidemiological and toxicological research in its personal and environmental protection programs to benefit employees, communities, and the industry. Dow uses employee work histories, medical records, death certificates, and similar information to search for potential links between specific chemical exposures in the workplace and employee illnesses. The basis for this research is Dow's Epidemiology Surveillance System, a 10-year-old comprehensive database compiled from vital statistics registries at each of the company's major locations.

Dow has conducted more than 100 studies in the past 20 years, examining such areas as cancer incidence and chemical-related mortality as well as the cost effectiveness of its health programs and their impact on employee wellness. Positive results from these studies helped to secure ongoing senior management support for the health promotion program.

The company's intent is to publish all of its studies, regardless of the outcomes. When studies showing negative results have not been accepted for publication, Dow sends summary information to the journal editors to make them aware of its findings.

Other Dow initiatives that drew accolades from the examining team were its Occupational Medicine Clinical Guidelines publication, which provides a standard, global set of recommendations for evaluating and treating different health conditions, as well as for immunization and international travel; its comprehensive emergency treatment program delivered through both on- and off-site resources, including the use of automatic external defibrillators (which has already resulted in one life saved); its outstanding toxicology assessment program to identify and control toxic hazards; its comprehensive environmental protection program, with extensive expert and community input on important environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) issues; its remarkable health education and wellness program, with superior didactic materials and an excellent, low-cost exercise facility; and its exemplary involvement in community and government health and safety regulations.

Included among the many positive outcomes of Dow's health and safety initiatives is the steady reduction in reportable incidents as defined by OSHA. The company has made excellent progress toward its goal of a 90 percent reduction from 1995 through 2005, with the reportable incident rate dropping steadily from 2.07 in 1995 to 1.6 in 1996, 1.66 in 1997, 1.27 in 1998, and further reduction in 1999. Participation in the company's health assessment program is also very strong, ranging up to 95 percent in many locations.

Commenting on the award, Dow president and CEO William Stavropoulous said, "This is a very important award for Dow because it recognizes that we're making substantial progress in our drive to be the very best in EH&S performance, which is integral to our overall aspiration to become a premier, sustainable growth company. We appreciate ACOEM for taking leadership in this field and sponsoring such an award."

Larry Washington, Dow's corporate vice president with responsibilities for EH&S, Public Affairs, and Human Resources, emphasized the value of applying for the award. "I know that the award process has provided us with a clearer view to help us find the next breakthroughs for performance improvement," he said.

Also pleased about the award was Dr. Catherine Baase, director of Health Services. "I am extremely proud of the individuals in the Dow Health Services organization who have together achieved this milestone," she said. "Dow is a great company, with strong values and principles accompanying its drive for financial success. Dow recognizes that healthy people and a healthy culture are key to corporate excellence."

The other 2000 CHAA national winners were Sherman Health Systems and General Electric Power Systems. In addition, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Idaho National Engineering & Environmental Laboratory received Model Program Awards.

ACOEM, an international society of 7,000 occupational medicine physicians, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments by educating health professionals and thepublic; stimulating research; enhancing quality of practice; guiding public policy; and advancing the field of occupational and environmental medicine.

Copyright © The Dow Chemical Company (1995-2000). All rights reserved.

 



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