The Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) in Quantico, Virginia has been recognized for its achievements in workplace safety and health by OSHA through their Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Some of the implementations made by MCAF include a safety awards program, enhancement of their annual risk mitigation plan, and the utilization of a smartphone app that allows users to conduct inspections as well as report hazards.
The most successful injury and illness prevention programs include a similar set of elements. The goal is to:
- Find hazards in the workplace and actively address them in a timely manner
- Develop a plan for preventing and controlling hazards
- Have management involvement and leadership
- Have active worker participation in implementing actions
- Have workers trained so they know how their safety program works
- Have a periodic evaluation of the program to identify areas that can be improved
OSHA’s VPP recognizes employers and workers who have implemented effective safety and health programs, and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. At a ceremony Nov. 1, OSHA regional administrator Richard Mendelson presented commanding officer Lt. Col. Daniel Murphy with a VPP flag and plaque honoring the facility as a "Star" worksite. According to Murphy, every individual on the MCAF team plays a key role in the success of its safety program. He also said that the more the team invests into their safety efforts, the greater their mission readiness will be.
"A lot of these individual programs boil down to one overarching theme, leadership, leadership in following the programs, enforcing the standards, and following procedures. Good leadership translates down the rest of the organization into a professional working environment linking all programs together," Murphy said.
The VPP efforts at MCAF were spearheaded by Michael Hancock, MCAF Installation Safety Manager. Through three commanding officers, Hancock guided the group through the VPP process from start to finish. In VPP, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively to proactively prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the areas of hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, management commitment, and worker involvement.
“The Star Award is a testament of a team coming together and creating a world-class safety program,” Hancock said in a press release. “Each individual in this command is deserving of this award. … The purpose of the safety smartphone application is to make sure everyone feels engaged and connected to the safety office and safety program. These days, people spend a considerable amount of time on their smartphones, so it seemed logical to leverage that behavior in our VPP efforts to improve our safety program.”
OSHA approves qualified sites to one of three programs: Star, Merit or Star Demonstration, which provides recognition for worksites that address safety and health issues. Worksites that qualify must submit annual self-evaluations and undergo periodic onsite re-evaluations to remain in the programs.
The benefits of attaining VPP status are significant:
- improved worker safety
- increased employee involvement
- reduced workers’ compensation premiums
- continuous safety and health program improvement
When evaluating a job for hazards, don't forget to ensure that any required safety signs and labels are in place and in good condition.
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