After seven years of preparation, the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, in Battle Creek, Mich., may soon be wearing its “star” from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program. The Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center is home to both DLA Disposition Services and DLA Logistics Information Service.
An OSHA audit team that arrived at the Federal Center Oct. 15 met with the local members of the VPP program to share its observations before heading home to complete the official report of what was seen over the week it was in Battle Creek. During the final meeting Oct. 19, Bill Cohoe, DLA Installation Support’s local safety and occupational health chief, said it looked like all of workforce’s efforts to create a safer working environment had paid off. He said the workforce really came together to make the OSHA inspection a success and the employees, supervisors and directors truly shined.
“We passed the inspection, and we are well on our way,” Cohoe said. “The OSHA team was happy with what they saw and recommended us for the Star.”
From here, he said it’s a matter of waiting for the team’s official report and sending it back to them. “It just takes time,” Cohoe said.
VPP is intended to promote effective worksite safety and health. Part of the process of adopting VPP practices helps management, labor and OSHA enhance cooperative relationships for a more comprehensive safety and health management system. Earning recognition through VPP recognizes what OSHA describes as “the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.”
Twila Gonzales, DLA Disposition Services director, praised the workforce for its effort to support VPP certification. In a message to all employees after the audit team’s departure, Gonzales said the recommendation for Star status could not have been done without the employees’ work in creating a safe environment.
“They were highly, highly impressed and identified a number of best practices that will be shared throughout the VPP community,” Gonzales said. “Specifically, the Marketing/Video Committee, union support, the ergonomics program and our Emergency Response Team are considered areas of excellence.”
In the end, Gonzales said all elements of the federal center’s safety and health management program met the quality expectations of VPP. In practice, OHSA’s website states that the evaluation visit allows the program to ensure prospective sites have met VPP performance-based criteria for a managed safety and health system. The “Star” recognition is meant for employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards and in the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.
Adding her own praise for the workforce, DLA Logistics Information Service Director Deb Greger said receiving a Star status recommendation was just the beginning.
“It is now up to us to continue on with our momentum and maintain the safety conscious environment that makes Battle Creek a great place to work,” Greger said.
The HDI will hold the distinction of being only the second DLA activity to graduate from the OSHA VPP challenge and achieve Star status.