CAMP CARROLL, South Korea – Despite already boasting a stellar safety record, one unit here is cranking things up a notch when it comes to promoting safe habits and instilling an organizational culture of safety.
Army Field Support Battalion – Northeast Asia conducted a quarterly safety stand-down event highlighted by the kick-off of Phase Two of their Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Program at Warehouse 15, here, June 2.
The event included presentations and discussions covering a variety of safety topics. Area IV Fire & Emergency Services also conducted demonstrations including how to safely evacuate a smoke-filled building (with simulated smoke) and how properly use and put out a blaze with hands-on fire extinguisher training.
To implement Phase Two of the battalion’s VPP, leaders and employees alike signed a VPP banner, signifying their personal commitment to the program.
“The Voluntary Protection Program recognizes employers and workers in the private industry and federal agencies who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries,” according to the VPP website. “In VPP, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through a system focused on: hazard prevention and control; worksite analysis; training; and management commitment and worker involvement.”
Participating in VPP is no simple task.
“To participate, employers must submit an application to OSHA and undergo a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals,” according to OSHA. “VPP participants are re-evaluated every three to five years to remain in the programs.”
The VPP consists of three phases. Phase One focuses on documentation – lots of it.
“OSHA requires that all pieces of a safety and health management system are in place,” said Chance Long, safety and occupational health manager, 403rd Army Field Support Brigade. “In Phase One, all safety-related documentation to include the VPP checklist, SOPs, regulations, safety data sheets, inspection forms, are reviewed.”
Phase Two brings senior management, leaders, and all assigned workers, including contractors, together to commit to the program as a team – from top-to-bottom, and complete required training. Once training has been completed, the Department of Defense Safety Management Center of Excellence team conducts on-site inspections. They inspect paperwork, facilities, and all safety aspects of the organization. They also conduct interviews of leadership and a percentage of the workforce to ensure they understand the elements of VPP and what their roles and responsibilities are in carrying out the safety management system within their work centers.
“Stage Three is when you have all the pieces in place, you have been implementing the VPP concepts and have been able to maintain it for a year,” Long said. “Once you've done that for a year, and there are no outstanding OSHA violations, you will earn the VPP Star Certification which has to be recertified every three to five years.”
The 403rd Army Field Support Brigade, AFSBn-NEA’s higher headquarters, is implementing the VPP at its other subordinate units on the Peninsula and in Japan.
“The VPP is not about compliance,” Long said. “We are establishing a culture of safety encompassing everything that we do - where safety is ingrained in every task. Safety is always a priority and must be incorporated into all aspects of what we do.”
AFSBn-NEA currently boasts a safety record of more than 1,500 mishap-free days.
To view and download more photos of the event (and other 403rd AFSB events), go to the Brigade Flickr Album Page at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/afsb403d/albums
To learn more about the VPP, go to: https://www.osha.gov/vpp