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News | Sept. 27, 2018

DLA Distribution San Joaquin receives the prestigious Department of Defense Voluntary Protection Programs Site Award

By Annette Silva DLA Distribution San Joaquin Public Affairs

A culture of safety at DLA Distribution San Joaquin, California is evident with their selection as the 2018 Department of Defense Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Achievement Award winner. Marine Col. Andre Harrell, installation commander, accepted the award on behalf of Team San Joaquin at the Voluntary Protection Program Participant’s Association National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on August 28, 2018. The installation is one of only 57 certified Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Programs Star sites in the Department of Defense. 

 DLA Chief of Staff, Kristin French, senior executive service, was delighted with the news of the award and conveyed her congratulations to the entire DLA Distribution San Joaquin Team!  She noted that this is the first time DLA has been recognized by DoD for VPP Achievement. 

The DoD Voluntary Protection Program Achievement Awards are presented annually to DoD commands/activities/units and individuals that have demonstrated exceptional performance in the implementation and sustainment of a safety management system that aligns with the goals and objectives of the Department of Labor’s OSHA’s VPP program. These units and individuals also demonstrated an outstanding level of outreach activity that effectively shares their knowledge and experience with other units/individuals.

DLA Distribution Deputy Commander, Twila Gonzales was pleased with the news. “Rear Adm. Jones and I are extremely proud of San Joaquin’s ongoing efforts to improve their safety management system and to protect DLA employees from workplace injury or illness,” she commented.

In a congratulatory letter from Stephanie Barna, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, she wrote that DLA San Joaquin’s teamwork and efficiencies exhibits the finest example of an installation workforce’s desire to take care of one another. She continued to say that DLA San Joaquin’s efforts to significantly reduce lost time totals by 69 percent, total injuries by 20 percent and Materials Handling Equipment mishaps by 47 percent are impressive.

DLA San Joaquin is an OSHA Star certified worksite. Their journey began in 2009. The site was awarded VPP Star certification in 2011 and recertified in 2016. The next re-certification date will be in 2020.

A crucial element of an outstanding VPP Star Site is management, leadership and employee involvement. Management commitment to safety and health protection and to VPP participation is a team effort from the top down. The leadership team works in unison with their AFGE Local 1546 partners and the workforce to provide a world-class Safety and Occupational Health program.

Another important element of the program is employee involvement. Over 60 employee volunteers joined the effort by participating in VPP sub-committees volunteering over 3,000 hours to the VPP Program. A key sub-committee is the Marketing and Media Support team who communicates the importance of the VPP program on a daily basis. They created the Star Central newsletter, an employee produced publication which centers on enhancing the distribution center’s safety culture.

The sub-committee Team YES (You Encourage Safety) identified an exertion hazard where workers were manually using operated cable cutters to cut large gauge wire. Workers were experiencing muscular strains and fatigue. This team researched options to introduce mechanical cutting means. This resulted in identifying and purchasing a tool that the team recommended and was implemented. As a result, this new tool prevented further injuries and increased productivity.

Every employee at the distribution center has eyes on safety. The workforce was active in the hazard reporting program at the installation. They used multiple avenues for reporting hazards. They regularly use the DLA Form 1404 (Hazard/Near-Miss Report) and the Enterprise Safety and Management System to report safety incidents.

Another key area of a successful safety program is safety and health training. Team San Joaquin promotes a learning, mishap prevention, hazardous identification, and thinking safety culture. Employees have participated in on-line safety courses and attended in-seat training safety courses.

“With Safety you get an opportunity to demonstrate your support in all you do, from approaching situations with a risk mitigation thought process to encouraging everyone to think before acting and be mindful when transitioning from one task to the next,” said Susan Earle, deputy commander and safety champion. “Coupled with empowering every employee to stop risky behavior we strive to have an unwavering focus on maintaining safe operations and working in a safe manner. We as an installation are humbled to have received this prestigious award.”

Safety is inherent in everything the San Joaquin team does on a daily basis and their slogan reflects just that. “One Site – One Flag – One Team.”