News: Marine Corps Base Barstow awarded for safety
Story by Pfc. Victoria Fairchild
MCLB BARSTOW, Calif. — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration awarded Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow its Voluntary Protection Program Star Status award for being recertified after two years of outstanding safety practice, made possible by the installations entire work force.
MCLB Barstow received the VPP award in October 2011 for having met the high standards held by OSHA. The installation is one-of-a-kind in the Marine Corps, being the only Marine Corps installation certified by OSHA’s VPP. VPP started out as a program for privately-owned industries and later moved in to the realm of federal agencies, such as our military bases.
“There is only one first,” said Col. Daniel P. Ermer, commanding officer of MCLB Barstow. “We are the only installation that has been VPP certified and the only one that has been recertified.”
MCLB Barstow was first VPP certified on April 19, 2008. Before a base is officially awarded the title, a hard year’s work of preparation must come first.
“The kick-off for being certified was [held] in March of 2006 and after the requirements were met, we needed to uphold those for an entire year to prove that we could keep the inspections going and pass everything with flying colors,” said Ray Aguilar, base safety manager.
“Then we were inspected by VPP officials in September 2007 and received the news the following spring.”
The base’s relentless hard work and dedication to safety made the recertification possible. Marines and civilians alike must keep up with their knowledge of safety and always be on the lookout for any safety hazards.
“It was a group effort,” said Cliff Acles, a VPP steering committee co-chair member aboard MCLB Barstow. “Everyone had to work together to get this. Of course all eyes are going to be on us now; we’re the only base that has this safety program running effectively.”
Employees aboard MCLB Barstow can expect to be inspected often and periodically quizzed on their knowledge of VPP. Supervisors are asked to pass information down the line to be sure that everyone is prepared.
“My job is to help enforce the policy and help the supervisors understand what guidelines need to be followed with this program,” said Ermer.
“The staff here has done a tremendous job of working together and caring about safety.”
With the base’s recertification complete, other companies and installations look toward MCLB Barstow for guidance in becoming certified themselves.
“Once you’ve been VPP certified, you set the example for everyone else on how to do things correctly and efficiently,” said Acles. “At certain events, we’ll be out showing people how to complete certain tasks involved with being certified. There is a long list of things to tackle and sometimes they just aren’t up to it.”
Ten other installations are working on becoming certified, said Aguilar. There are a few that are getting really close, just needing to fix a few minor issues, he said.
MCLB Barstow received word from OSHA representatives on March 9, 2012 that it was recertified for another two years, after successfully passing the October 2011 audit team inspection.
For more information about VPP and any other safety awards received by MCLB Barstow, contact Ray Aguilar at (760) 577-6001.