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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

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Base and tenants focus on safety with Voluntary Protection Plan

By Art Powell | | October 29, 2009

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., officials and tenant units, are striving to make safer workplaces through a program of local safety inspections and education.

The Voluntary Protection Program, from the Occupational Safety and Health

Administration, is a cooperative program designed to promote effective worksite-based safety and health. 

“It is a process, a culture change,” said Kay Mull, command safety specialist, Installations, Environment, and Safety Division, Marine Corps Logistics Command. “The four main elements to the process are management leadership and employee involvement, work site analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.”

The number of organizations at the base who are involved in VPP is growing, and they recognize the importance of each component in the program. Besides cultural changes, LOGCOM’s VPP involves work instructions, written procedures and training, all of which are expected to take approximately two years to fully implement.

“Each of the elements in VPP is designed to work together to make a successful program,” said Donna Chalmers, safety and occupational health specialist and MCLB Albany VPP coordinator. “VPP teaches all employees how to identify hazards and correct or repair them on the spot, it makes them all part of the process.”

The base Risk Management Office plans to deploy a mobile team on base to assist in VPP training and explain the program. Another initial step in the program is to perform a gap analysis that establishes needed steps to improve the safety environment in a work place.

“Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is well positioned to achieve recognition as a VPP ‘Star’ site. We have a reputation as having one the most robust and comprehensive occupational safety and health programs in the Marine Corps,” said Merrill G. Dickinson, installation safety manager, MCLB Albany. “Our mishap rates are already at or below the industry benchmark. We have some work to do, but I don’t think it’s a large leap for the command to embrace VPP.”

The VPP is designed to reduce worker compensation costs and workplace injuries while increasing employee involvement in the program, all of which are created over a period of time.

OSHA’s VPP recognizes superior performance in health and safety and is a partnership between labor, management and the government to promote safety through worker involvement.

“LOGCOM is implementing VPP because we are committed to providing all employees with the best safety and health program available. With this culture change, our injury and illness rates will go down, our morale and productivity will go up, and our service to the warfighter will improve exponentially,” Mull said.

As VPPs mature, the goal is to receive VPP ‘Star’ status, for top achievement, from OSHA and LOGCOM’s goal is far-reaching.

“Our goal is to reach ‘Star’ recognition at five different locations: LOGCOM headquarters, Maintenance Center Albany, Maintenance Center Barstow, (Calif.), Distribution Management Center Fleet Support Division Albany and Distribution Management Center’s Fleet Support Division Barstow,” Mull said.

LOGCOM has, she said, increased the number of OSHA certified trainers, completed jobsite/workstation analysis on numerous locations, posted safety/VPP banners at all building locations and began work on a “VPP Passport.” 

“The VPP passport is a vehicle that each employee will utilize to help achieve both their personal and work safety goals. There are many other projects and ideas for implementation being considered,” Mull added.

At Maintenance Center Albany, employees are on their way to VPP implementation, according to MCA officials. 

“The program is a significant task to implement and to sustain, and it takes involvement from all the employees,” said Darren Jones, manager, Production Management and Trades Department. “For each of the main elements in the program, MCA has a subcommittee established, comprised of volunteers from MCA.”

He reports that each subcommittee is making progress on their portion of the implementation.

“We are 25 percent complete with the two-year implementation, and MCA is already seeing reductions in mishaps and an increase in safety awareness by all employees. Our VPP Communications Committee is doing a great job of spreading the word and keeping everyone informed of our implementation status with their monthly newsletter,” said Jones. “MCA conducted a VPP slogan contest, and the winning slogan was “Operation VPP: Protecting our People, Securing our Future.”