Voluntary Protection Program recognizes safe operations at DLA sites

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

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Five Defense Logistics Agency sites participate in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration program that encourages employees and managers to excel at safe workplace practices.

The Voluntary Protection Program is an OSHA program recognizing employees and managers who’ve adopted effective safety and health management systems while maintaining injury rates below the national average according to osha.gov/vpp. 

Active engagement is key to being recognized as a VPP STAR site, and DLA’s safety management systems ensure employees at all levels are involved, said DLA Safety Occupational and Health Program Manager Anna Lyons.

VPP participation categories are Star Program, Merit Program and Star Demonstration Program.

The Star Program recognizes excellence in safety and health practices at worksites where employees are protected from injury and illness through comprehensive safety and health management systems. These worksites are self-sufficient in identifying and controlling workplace hazards.

The Merit Program recognizes worksites that have good safety and health management systems and personnel who show the willingness, commitment and ability to achieve site-specific goals that will qualify them for Star participation. 

The Star Demonstration Program recognizes worksites that have Star-quality safety and health management systems that differ from the VPP model and therefore do not meet current Star requirements. 

DLA sites in Columbus, Ohio; San Joaquin, California; Norfolk, Virginia; Battle Creek, Michigan; and Richmond, Virginia have achieved Star status or are working toward recertification as a Star site.

Safety officials from the Defense Department’s Safety Management Center of Excellence help DLA sites prepare for onsite OSHA evaluations by determining whether they meet OSHA standards in four categories: management leadership and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.

Lyons said those who have achieved Star status have completed a three-stage process that involves deciding, developing and planning; execution; and evaluation and improvement. Upon completion, SMCX officials travel to the site to perform a mock evaluation and interviews using OSHA criteria.

“The OSHA VPP evaluation team wants us to succeed. They don’t make it confrontational or adversarial,” Lyons said, adding that DLA personnel strive for and have always achieved Star status.

After the mock evaluation, the site completes an OSHA application for VPP status and sends it to DLA Headquarters safety officials for review and feedback. The final application includes a memorandum from the site commander verifying he or she supports the location moving forward with an OSHA evaluation.

Once approved, OSHA schedules an onsite evaluation. New applicants typically receive an evaluation within six months of the receipt of the completed application.

Lyons said the ultimate payoff for achieving VPP status is having employees take home the safety practices they learn at work.

“Achieving OSHA VPP recognition is validation of DLA leaders’ commitment to practicing good risk management and to implementing safety and occupational health programs,” Lyons said. “VPP recognition also validates the collaborative effort and commitment of employees’ and employee representatives to following safety and occupational health program requirements in DLA workplaces.”