Excellence in safety starts with LEAD
August 27, 2012
LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT, Chambersburg, Pa.-- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognized Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) with Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Certification for exemplary achievement in employee safety and health on Aug. 14.
OSHA director for Harrisburg, Pa., Kevin Kilp presented Depot Commander, Col. Victor S. Hagan, with the VPP certificate, plaque and flag during a presentation ceremony held at Letterkenny Headquarters on Aug. 27.
"It is an honor and a privilege to accept this award on behalf of the workforce," Hagan said. "You in this room are the real change agents. You got engaged, took charge, made this program your own, and encouraged your co-workers."
Participation in the Star Voluntary Protection Program acknowledges that LEAD's employees and managers have demonstrated exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards as well as the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.
Even though the program is voluntary, Kilp recognized LEAD for an extremely high level of employee involvement.
"This is no small feat. No single person or small group is responsible; everyone has been involved in this 5 year journey," he said. "Star approval is a culmination of all your hard work and you've really achieved something here today. I hope you understand what it means to achieve Star status."
Implementing a Safety and Health Management System (SHMS) that reflects excellence takes resources and commitment from employees and leadership. For many organizations, it is difficult to transition from a program based safety system to an all encompassing SHMS.
LEAD was no exception.
LEAD's VPP journey began in 2007 when the Depot recognized the value of shifting to a SHMS for both the workforce and the organization.
The VPP steering committee was re-organized into a VPP senior leadership advisory board that was supported by four VPP subcommittees. This was necessary to engage employee and leadership participation depot-wide. Employees throughout the organization were embracing the changes being recommended by subcommittees and put in place by the advisory board.
LEAD submitted an application to OSHA and underwent a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals. Based off of the positive evaluation, the depot was recommended for Star certification.
One of the highlights for LEAD has been the ability to maintain injury and illness rates below the National Bureau of Labor Statistics averages.
"Since beginning this journey in 2007 the accident rate has dropped 34 percent." Hagan said. "That's miraculous…truly a feat within itself."
To become a Star site, organizations must move beyond just having safety and health programs and establish an all encompassing SHMS that covers a wide variety of areas surrounding a program such as training, job analysis, safety/health staff oversight, reward/disciplinary systems and continuous improvement within the system itself.
"In my 22 years as a safety specialist at LEAD, I would have never thought LEAD would be able to achieve VPP Star certification," Jeff Graham, said. "But after seeing employees get involved, I saw our safety culture change at all levels of the organization. Safety changed from being pushed on employees to one being owned by employees."