OSHA recognizes AFSBn-Cavazos again for maintaining excellence in worker safety

By Samantha Harms, Fort Cavazos Public AffairsJanuary 23, 2024

Jerry Stephens, Army Field Support Battalion-Cavazos deputy director, helps Paul Savage, the principal safety professional with Department of Defense Safety Management Center of Excellence, open a gift that the AFSBn-Cavazos team gifted to Savage. (U.S. Army photo by Samantha Harms, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
Jerry Stephens, Army Field Support Battalion-Cavazos deputy director, helps Paul Savage, the principal safety professional with Department of Defense Safety Management Center of Excellence, open a gift that the AFSBn-Cavazos team gifted to Savage. (U.S. Army photo by Samantha Harms, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: SAMANTHA HARMS) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Safety officers and leadership from across the Army Field Support Battalion-Cavazos came together Dec. 15, 2023, to celebrate being recertified as a Star participant in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, Voluntary Protection Program, or VPP.

Safety officers from across AFSBn-Cavazos celebrated their recertification with cake, ice cream and a celebration speaker who reminded them that while they have worked hard to earn the recertification, the process never stops.

“You guys are kind of a rare bird in the fact that you’ve been certified and recertified,” shared Paul Savage, the principal safety professional with Department of Defense Safety Management Center of Excellence and guest speaker for the celebration. “And there’s a natural tendency to go, ‘Are we done yet with this stuff?’ … It’s something you have to continue to be proficient in. You don’t want to rest on your horse.”

VPP encourages and promotes private industry and federal agencies to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses through hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training and cooperation between workers and management; all of this is implemented through supervisors and employees.

It requires a recertification every three to five years through an OSHA extensive audit.

As described by Eric Harin, the regional administrator for OSHA, in the recertification notification, “VPP participants serve as models for other employers, workers and unions by operating excellent safety and health management programs. Achieving a level of worker protection that goes beyond compliance with government regulations is commendable.

“Congratulations on your dedication,” he added, “and the involvement of workers in the prevention of injuries and illnesses.”

To be a Star participant, the worksite must achieve and maintain injury/illness rates below the national industrial average for similar work sites.

In the last five years, AFSBn-Cavazos has maintained an average rate of 84.4% below the national industrial average.

Lt. Col. Richard Martinez, commander of the Army Field Support Battalion-Cavazos, poses for a photo with Paul Savage, the principal safety professional with Department of Defense Safety Management Center of Excellence, after presenting Savage a certification of appreciation. (U.S. Army photo by Samantha Harms, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs)
Lt. Col. Richard Martinez, commander of the Army Field Support Battalion-Cavazos, poses for a photo with Paul Savage, the principal safety professional with Department of Defense Safety Management Center of Excellence, after presenting Savage a certification of appreciation. (U.S. Army photo by Samantha Harms, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: SAMANTHA HARMS) VIEW ORIGINAL

AFSBn-Cavazos Logistics Readiness Center is the only Army Field Support Battalion LRC VPP Star site.

“All of this is possible because of you,” Lt. Col. Richard Martinez, commander of the Army Field Support Battalion-Cavazos, shared with the crowd. “Everything we do, every day, every operation that we do, every day has to do with safety. And your initiative, your energy, your performances, this is the reason why we are a VPP site, because of you.

“You guys make that happen,” he added. “You make it happen every single day.”

While leadership was happy to share in the celebration, an emphasis was placed on the employees who take pride in what they do every day to ensure safety remains a number one priority.

“When we started doing the VPP, when we started putting it out there for the employees, they were really resistant about it, because there’s a lot of change,” Diana Torres, chief of Transportation Division with AFSBn-Cavazos, shared. “Folks are resistant to change. But we had a few that bought into it. And then it was contagious, it spread.

“Throughout the years, it’s just amazing watching it grow,” she continued. “We have so many buy-ins, and the truth is, it’s meant a lot for us, because we’ve come a long way … to where we are today.”

Torres was in the maintenance division when the program initially started with OSHA.

“I was just telling some of the employees, ‘I’m so proud of you,’ because one of the (current maintenance division) supervisors was the guy that bought into us doing what we wanted to do, starting at the maintenance bays, and they would go to different locations, different sites to get ideas,” Torres said. “We’ve come a long way.”