News: 97th MX strives for VPP Star rating
ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - A team of experts from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a rigorous onsite evaluation of the 97th Maintenance Directorate's work site requirements, work sites, records and confidential employee interviews July 9-12.
The evaluation was to identify if the 97th MX's Voluntary Protection Program is worthy of the OSHA "Star" rating.
According to the OSHA website, a Star rating is recognition for employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational hazards.
"VPP is important because we were number two in all of Department of Defense for injury rates in 2005, which was horrible," said Bryan W. Doyle, 97th MX safety office supervisor. "We're not on that list anymore. We are below industry standards as far as our injuries go."
The 97th MX is the only unit on base to enter OSHA's VPP.
According to the OSHA website, the VPP promotes effective work site-based safety and health. In the VPP, management, labor, and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at work places that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system. Acceptance into the VPP is OSHA's official recognition of the efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.
Part of the success of the VPP at Altus AFB was training employees how to recognize safety concerns and giving them a way to submit their concerns so changes could be implemented.
The Director of Maintenance Mr. James R. Kelly, quickly learned that training employees and giving them direct access to submit safety concerns was key to continuous improvement in the unit's safety program, Doyle said.
Kelly chairs a monthly open-forum safety meeting with the work force and it has led to many safety advancements. The employees of the 97th MX have turned in more than 180 safety concerns and made improvements that reach across the entire DOD.
The 97th MX is now awaiting the results of the OSHA evaluation, which could take several months.
"If we get the Star rating it means the work site is proven and verified that it's exceeding all safety rules," Doyle said. "Plus it saves money for the Air Force because injury numbers are down. We didn't do it for the glory. We did it to make our work site safer. If we get it, it will be a big deal."
Date Posted:07.19.2012 09:59
Location:ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, OK, US
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