CRANE, Ind. - Crane Army Ammunition Activity conducted a Voluntary Protection Program Center of Excellence mock inspection of its safety and health management systems recently in an effort to provide better working conditions for its employees.

The purpose of the mock inspection was to determine what areas CAAA needs to improve upon prior to the inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Representatives from Army Materiel Command, Joint Munitions Command, OSHA and VPP CX conducted the mock inspection. Crane Army will have several months to get ready for the OSHA visit and inspection.

VPP promotes effective worksite-based safety and health. In the VPP, management, labor, and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system. Approval into VPP is OSHA's official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.

According to Safety Supervisor Walt Shearin, "CAAA started its journey to become a VPP worksite two years ago. We had a review of our safety and health management program and have been working to improve the program since then. We are now at the point of putting together an application to OSHA in order to become a VPP worksite."

As part of the next VPP step to prepare for the OSHA inspection, Crane Army will require effort from every person in the organization. Marketing Specialist and VPP committee member John Landgraf said, "Since VPP is management and employee driven, we need to make sure that the VPP principles are understood by everyone. The VPP CX mock inspection has provided us with an action plan to help us on our way to VPP Star status.

"The major way that VPP is affected by the employees is through the employee safety councils. The employee safety councils get ideas from employees, find ways to fix safety issues, assist the Safety Office, investigate safety mishaps, and are the key drivers in helping CAAA achieve VPP Star Status," Landgraf said.

Materials Handler and VPP committee member Tina Johnson explained the safety councils go beyond placing blame on safety issues. She said, "They are here to give employees a voice, but not to point fingers, just to give a different avenue for safety concerns to be addressed and give the employees some accountability for keeping their own areas safe. There is no excuse for them to work in conditions where they have concerns because they have the resources to address these concerns."

CAAA also offers other means for employees to make a difference on work safety. Data Technician and VPP committee member Matt Todd explained, "Currently Crane has an Employee Safety Suggestion Database allowing a quick and easy way for employees to input safety concerns or suggestions."

Strong safety awareness is not something new to Crane Army, which takes great pride in ensuring its workforce is safe while working in dangerous conditions with ammunition. In February, CAAA achieved a milestone of an entire year, nearly two million work hours, without a lost workday case. According the CAAA Commander Col. Charles Kibben, VPP is a natural extension of Crane Army's current culture of safety.

"Although our record of performance remains exceptional... I challenge each and every one of you to consider safety in everything you do," Kibben said in recent remarks to the CAAA workforce. "If there is a better way to approach a problem or make a process better, I am certainly open to your suggestions."

While every Army command tries to practice safety, it is the hope of Crane Army that by embracing VPP and encouraging the employees to take it on as their responsibility, CAAA will truly have a safety-first culture.

"The major thing that employees should know is that VPP will help them have a safer and cleaner work environment," Landgraf said. "It will also make us a better, more efficient organization. It will help protect employees though more active employee participation. Employees can best support VPP through their everyday actions: work safe, work smart, wear personal protective equipment, indentify hazards, and report all accidents."

CAAA was established in Oct. 1977 and is a tenant of the Navy Region Midwest, Naval Support Activity Crane. The Army activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components.