W. R. Grace & Co. (NYSE: GRA) has announced today its Chicago 51st Street, Illinois facility has earned membership in the prestigious “Star” Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Voluntary Protection Program is OSHA’s official recognition of exemplary occupational safety and health. VPP sets performance-based criteria for a managed safety and health system, invites sites to apply, and then assesses applicants against these criteria (including a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts). The Chicago 51st Street facility is one of approximately 2,300 VPP Star worksites operating in the United States.

VPP Star members achieve average injury rates that are generally 50 percent lower than other worksites in their industries. As a result of a safety-first atmosphere on site and outstanding health and safety programs, the Chicago 51st Street facility has not had a lost time injury in more than 5 years.

“This prestigious distinction designates Chicago 51st Street as an elite operation in U.S. manufacturing,” commented Karen Ethier, Grace’s Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety. “It is the outcome of our relentless focus on safety—captured in a simple goal: no one should ever get hurt—and our commitment to our employees, contractors, customers and communities.”

Jim Hansen, North American Manufacturing Manager and site leader for the Chicago 51st Street facility, gave credit to his team: “Everyone, from customer service to operations, maintenance, engineering and quality, played a vital role in reaching this certification.”

Grace’s Chicago 51st Street facility manufactures can sealants for the food and beverage packaging industry, cement and concrete admixtures and waterproofing products for the construction industry, and Sodasorb carbon dioxide absorbents for medical devices. The plant was opened in 1941.

This is the fourth Grace location to earn the VPP distinction, joining manufacturing plants in Lake Charles, Louisiana (certified in 2005) and Edison, New Jersey (certified in 2007), and a Technical Center in Curtis Bay, Maryland (certified in 2008).