VPP means safety excellence for ANAD
June 7, 2012
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program is a proven program across industry that began in 1982.
The program encourages companies to voluntarily go above and beyond to promote effective safety and health programs with the overriding objective of making safety a fundamental part of the culture.
The importance of VPP cannot be overstated. For Anniston Army Depot, it is a comprehensive way to ensure we achieve occupational safety and health excellence. All employees (depot, tenants, partners and contractors) are accountable for achieving this goal as a life sustaining skill, not only for the workplace, but in all aspects of our lives.
The installation needs continued emphasis and commitment at all levels to help us get where we want to be. In the coming months, a team from OSHA will evaluate the depot to determine if we have what it takes to earn the prestigious VPP Star Certification.
The Center for Technical Excellence for VPP paid the depot a courtesy visit last month. After inspecting two production facilities and talking to employees in key directorates and tenants the CTX told us we were far from ready for the OSHA audit.
Federal worksites became eligible for VPP in 1998. Since that time, several organizations have earned the VPP Star, including one of our sister installations, Corpus Christie Army Depot. VPP is an open-ended process. ANAD's goal of Star status can be achieved, but sustainment is the key.
Because of how beneficial VPP is, it is now a Department of Defense directive.
In fulfilling the depot's commitment to VPP, we all must strive to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Safety should be given the same level of importance, if not higher, than productivity and other business metrics.
In short, we must be committed to promoting a work environment that goes beyond compliance. The key to achieving that goal is each team member's commitment to be aware of hazards and take the initiative to address safety and health issues.
Together, we can all make ANAD a safer, more productive work environment. VPP training is mandatory for all employees -- depot, tenant, partner and contractor.
"The entire depot will have to develop a safety excellence attitude," said Tommy Carlisle, deputy director of production. "While the industrial area employs the largest number of employees, everyone will have to take ownership of the program. This requires all of us doing our jobs the right way, the most efficient way, and the safest way."
In order for ANAD to earn the VPP Star, two things have to happen -- employees must all have a safe attitude while working and each employee must work to their standards. This means:
• Each employee at ANAD is encouraged to make VPP their program; do their job as safely, as efficiently and productively as they can; and identify unsafe acts or practices as they are brought to their attention.
• Each individual must perform their job per the document they work by (SOP, LOI, DMWR, etc.). If they work their job in a way that differs from the written procedure, they must either start following the procedure or change the procedure (document), especially if the current procedure is safer, more efficient and more productive.
"The number one industrial injury is muscle strain, due to pushing or pulling," said Scott Miller, depot safety officer. "This type injury can best be avoided by utilizing the various lifting and moving devices available to workers in the industrial area."
Lifting and moving equipment on the installation includes, but is not limited to: cranes, jib booms, pallet jackets, forklifts and drum and barrel carriers/lifts.
A major injury in administrative/office settings is carpal tunnel, though it can be found throughout the installation. This type of injury (caused by repetitive motion) can be avoided by arranging your activity and work space using ergonomic guidelines.
Office ergonomics focuses on how a workstation is set up, including the placement of the desk, computer monitor, paperwork, chair and associated tools, such as a computer keyboard and mouse. The same ideas can help you arrange your position for other daily activities.
Those doing repetitive motions during their work day should also stretch, change positions or alternate with another activity.
VPP is built on four elements: management, leadership and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard protection and control, and safety and health training.
The depot's leadership as well as the local leadership for the American Federation of Government Employees stands behind the VPP process.
"We are in this one together," said Depot Commander, Col. Timothy Sullivan. "It's not an overnight process, but with commitment from the entire team, we will work to identify, assess, and organize our work environments to ensure added compliance in our safety and health programs. There is nothing that this workforce can't do."
Local AFGE president Shrene Funderburg has signed a letter stating AFGE Local 1945 totally supports and endorses VVP and ANAD's quest for STAR status. This document is a cornerstone for labor/employee involvement in the program.
"AFGE Local 1945 has been on-board from the beginning," said Wallace Gallahar, union liaison to the Safety Office.
The depot still has a lot of work to do, but, together, we can attain VPP certification.