Study: Arsenal is 'best in class' in safety
August 17, 2009
Someone is keeping an eye on Pine Bluff Arsenal when it comes to the area of safety.
In May, the Directorate of Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs received an email through the chain of command from Installation Management Command-Southeast. In the email was a chart of a sampling of installations currently implementing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program, and Pine Bluff Arsenal was at the top of the list for having a top notch safety program.
"If you will recall back in 2003, we were number one on the Department of Defense Top 40 list (A listing of installations having poor ratings with lost -time injuries). Not a good place to be. As a result of this, we were nominated for VPP," said Mark Lumpkin, RMRA director.
"Now years later they are going back with a sampling of these installations that were nominated and looking at their safety records. They are trying to validate if it was a good approach. It certainly shows that over time that PBA's program has improved dramatically."
"There is also reasonable argument from the sampling assessment we received that Pine Bluff among the group is the best in class for safety," said Lumpkin.
The assessment, which was done by an Army Safety Coordinating Panel with the Army's Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, featured information from such installations as Fort Gordon, Ga., McAlester Army Depot, Okla., Tooele Army Depot, Utah and Anniston Army Depot, Ala. The information was presented by Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon, Jr., Director of the Army Staff, and Mr. Tad Davis, IV, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for the Army's Environment, Safety and Occupational Health.
VPP is not really a new program. It is actually a quality standard by which world-class safety programs are measured and is a cooperative effort between OSHA, employers and employees and unions that recognizes and rewards exemplary safety and health programs that go above and beyond those standards, according to literature from the Arsenal's safety office.
Getting star status is our goal, according to Steve Redman, RMRA safety chief. "If we are to be successful, we will move towards a program that moves out of the safety office into the workplace," said Redman in a previous article in the Arsenal Sentinel. "In effect, we will have facilitated a culture where it is unacceptable to do anything but the right thing."
There are four primary elements of VPP - leadership and employee involvement, worksite hazard analysis, hazard prevention and control; and safety and health training. Some of these elements already exist within PBA's safety program, but the characteristics that set a VPP Star Site's safety program apart from other programs are in the details of employee ownership. Safety moves from a priority to a value, according to information provided by Redman's office.
"In order to maintain the Arsenal viability, we have to be better and faster, In order to be competitive, we have to go above and beyond," said Redman.
The Arsenal began their VPP assessment back in 2006, and submitted their application for star status April 2009. "The Little Rock District Office of OSHA has done a site visit and met with our team," said Lumpkin. "The union was also involved. The team was here to get a feel for the installation. Once they review and accept the application, they basically have six months to assemble a team and do an audit."
Lumpkin said that it can be a challenge to get a team to wrap their arms around a place like the Arsenal because it is essentially a small city. "For instance, most of these teams are going to a particular manufacturing facility that makes particular items," he said.
"We have two different manufacturing commodities - ammunition and chemical biological defense products. We also have a fire department, security, a health clinic, child care center, etc. The visit here was an eye-opening thing for OSHA because they had never done an audit on a place that was so diverse. So, they are trying to figure out the best way to do it."