UNION CITY, OKLAHOMA — Boral Bricks Inc., the nation's largest brick manufacturer and distributor of masonry products, announced that its Union City, Oklahoma manufacturing facility has been approved for participation in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In a letter from Assistant Secretary of Labor, David Michaels, Boral was notified that the Union City facility has earned "star" VPP status, the highest of three program classifications.  

The OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) recognizes excellence in safety and health programs, with the "star" status denoting exemplary achievement in this area. Boral's Union City plant is the only facility in the brick and structural clay tile industry to attain this prestigious designation. In their letter, OSHA officials congratulated Boral, saying, "You have joined an elite group of organizations that provide exemplary occupational safety and health protection and serve as models for others. OSHA has learned that this program approach to worker protection can save lives, reduce injuries and illness and promote cooperation and communication in the workplace."

Boral Bricks, an Australian-based company with U.S. headquarters outside of Atlanta, has become a leader in sustainable manufacturing in the building products industry. "We are honored to receive OSHA's Star certification," said Boral Bricks President, Bob Kepford. "Focusing on creating and maintaining a safe environment is a priority. Our employees have embraced safety as a key pillar in our culture. Collectively we have designed and implemented a safety program that has made Boral's Union City plant a safer and better place to work."

In order to be considered for inclusion in the VPP, a facility's Total Recordable Injury and Illness Rate (TRIIR) for the past three years must be below the national average for any one of those years. An application must be submitted to OSHA describing the operation of the facility's safety and health management system in detail. Major elements considered include:

  • Management Leadership and Employee Involvement
  • Worksite Analysis
  • Hazard Prevention and Control
  • Safety and Health Training

"The greatest benefit to Boral, and specifically the team at Union City, is having our efforts recognized, and taking pride in saying that we have the first and only brick manufacturing plant in the nation to attain this status," said Union City Plant Manager, Jon Pierce. "This also lets our customers, vendors, community leaders, and shareholders know that Boral Bricks Union City Plant is committed to providing a safe and healthful workplace which results in zero harm."

The 165,000-square foot Union City facility produces king-size brick, with a capacity to produce about 100 million bricks annually. The $35 million plant, built in 2006, currently employs around 50 people and serves customers throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas,

The state-of-the art Union City plant is also one of the most energy efficient plants in the United States and has partnered with a nearby landfill to utilize methane gas for its energy needs. This is the second brick plant owned by Boral Bricks to tap this relatively new energy source; the other facility is located in Terre Haute, IN. The Union City facility is a zero waste plant where nearly all materials used in the brick-making process are recycled in new batches. Premium efficiency motors, sensors, and timers for minimal light usage also contribute to high levels of sustainability. Union City is one of the newest brick plants owned by Boral, which operates several throughout the nation.

"It's a modern plant, which helps, but it really boils down to the leadership and the employees. It goes back to each individual because everyone has to be on board to achieve something like this and it has to be a collaborative effort. Normally, OSHA will find something wrong, but not here and we definitely had to have our ducks lined up," said Mike Patterson, Boral Bricks Corporate Safety and Health Manager.