ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The Voluntary Protection Program promotes excellence in work site safety and health.VPP involves managers, employees and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration working together to establish relationships at workplaces which have implemented comprehensive safety and health management systems.When you become a Star VPP Site, this means your organization's outstanding efforts to achieve exemplary occupational safety and health conditions have been recognized by OSHA.These are the programs which are part of the OSHA VPP:Star: Recognition for employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.Demonstration: Recognition for employers and employees who operate effective safety and health management systems that differ from current VPP requirements. This program enables OSHA to test the efficacy of different approaches.ANAD's goal is to reach Star status.To evaluate our readiness for that achievement, the depot is completing the OSHA Challenge.Throughout the OSHA Challenge, an outside team of auditors will routinely visit and assess ANAD's readiness and progress toward VPP Star Status.The OSHA Challenge is met by completing three stages of excellence.In the first stage, organizations write regulations and put programs into place.During the second stage, those programs are refined and employees are held accountable.The third stage ensures the organization is doing what was placed in writing and that the program is constantly improving.We are currently working on the second phase.In order to meet this stage of OSHA Challenge, ANAD must actively engage all employees in the safety program.This means participating in surveys, training, development of policies, accident investigations and giving feedback about safety programs.The Safety Office needs employees across the depot to be involved to help implement change.What is the benefit of the OSHA Challenge and VPP to ANAD?The main benefit is a significant reduction in the number of injuries and illnesses we have, which means more people go home safely every day to their families, who depend on them.Statistical evidence for sites which achieve VPP are impressive. The average VPP site has a Days Away, Restricted or Transferred case rate which is 52 percent below the average for its industry.Actions taken and implemented to achieve VPP status lead to these low rates.These reductions begin when the site commits to the VPP approach to safety and health management and the challenging VPP application process. A benefit to employees is an increase in morale, efficiency and job security.Industries benefit as VPP sites evolve into models of excellence and influence industry wide practices.But, as stated earlier, the biggest benefit is always that more employees go home safely to their loved ones.