Three more Regional Health Command Europe facilities recently earned the Army Safety Health Management System Star Site Certification.

The Safety Star program is based on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Program, an initiative that encourages private industry and federal agencies to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses through hazard prevention and control, work site analysis, training and cooperation between management and workers.

The facilities that earned the Star Site Certification are Pulaski Dental Clinic, Kleber Dental Clinic and Public Health Command Europe.

Pulaski Dental Clinic was the first dental clinic in Europe to achieve this certification.

"This is a huge accomplishment," Brig. Gen. Dennis LeMaster, RHCE commanding general said. "I am exceptionally proud of the commitment towards safety we have made."

According to McNeal Baptiste, DHCE safety officer, the process to become a Star Certified Site takes about three years and the involvement of all employees.

"This is about empowering everyone in the organization to speak up if they see something wrong and holding each other accountable," Baptiste said.

ASHMS aims to create a culture of safety within an organization and its employees, which is why the process takes so long.

According to Jason Shannon, RHCE safety manager, there are three stages to earning the certification.
Stage one involves developing safety programs; stage two is training employees to the programs; and stage three is ensuring employees remember the training and building the safety culture.

For a facility to ultimately be awarded the star site certification, they have to go through a two and a half day assessment sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Command.

During the assessment, the team looks at 243 different areas across all three stages of the program. Each stage has 71 items that are assessed, according to Shannon.

In addition to looking at the safety program and documentation, the assessment team also interviews staff.

They ask question about training opportunities and how the staff contributes to safety.

"We do mock interviews leading up to the assessment," Baptiste said. "We provide them with a list of frequently asked questions to help them prepare themselves."

In a patient care environment, according to Shannon, putting safety at the forefront is pretty easy to do.
"But this is about making the employees understand the process and making them a part of that process," Shannon said.

And the process isn't over once the star is awarded.

"There is a re-assessment every three years," Shannon said. "This is a continuous improvement process. They have got to show what they are doing to continue building a culture of safety. They can assist other units in getting the star status; they can re-vamp processes because of injuries; and they can continuously train staff."

With the addition of these newly certified facilities, RHCE now has 15 Star Certified Sites. And according to Shannon, the goal is to have the remaining 10 facilities earn the certification by the end of 2017.

This is about being a High Reliability Organization, Shannon said.

An HRO is an organization that aims for zero preventable harm events, while operating in environments where human errors occur and risk for adverse events is high.

"Every staff section plays a role -- doing the best they can to ensure the organization is functioning at the highest level possible. It's ordering supplies on time, having a budget and reporting hazards."

He went on to say that this cannot be done without leadership involvement.

"It starts from the top; you've got to have leadership engagement. If it's not important to them, it's usually not important to the employees," Shannon said. "You will not build a culture of safety without that key element pushing from the top down."

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