309th EMXG receives first annual DOD VPP award

By Alex R. Lloyd Ogden Air Logistics Complex

Lots of firsts are happening at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, in 2016 and it has happened again. The Ogden Air Logistics Complex’s 309th Electronics Maintenance Group has come away with the first-ever 2016 Department of Defense Voluntary Protection Program Group Achievement Award.

The award is to encourage a continuous positive safety culture change and to recognize the hard work of the DOD installations and individuals committed to VPP.

“I am very proud of the 309 EMXG team,” stated Brig. Gen. Steven J. Bleymaier, Ogden Air Logistics Complex commander. “A safety first culture requires engagement, communication, teamwork and action at all levels by every member on the team; and that’s what EMXG has – there are no bystanders, they’re all on the first string and making a difference.”

Encompassing a highly skilled workforce over 700 members strong, EMXG is the complex’s global electronics center of excellence, which safely provides repair, overhaul and modification of electronics, avionics, radar, navigation systems, laser guidance systems, instruments, photonics, generators, electrical systems and components on 12 vastly different weapon systems.

The group’s workload is handled by four squadrons and three support sections, and ranges from small benchtop repair of aircraft electrical components to heavy industrial maintenance on various ground power generator support equipment units.

Daily performance of their duties exposes employees to various hazards that include chemicals, heavy lifting, electrical shock, slips and falls and expanded standards caused by the presence of heavy metals.

With their daily exposure to hazards, EMXG has forged an attitude of safety throughout the organization, which has resulted in injures dropping from 34 in 2011 to 1 in 2015.

This attitude, along with many months of hard work and practical application, has resulted in EMXG being the only Occupational Safety and Health Administration VPP STAR site at Hill Air Force Base, as well as the first DOD installation to do so in OSHA Region 8, which includes North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.

Sandra Fitzgerald, Director, 309 EMXG, was presented the award Aug. 29 by Maureen Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, during the Voluntary Protection Programs Participant’s Association National Conference.

“EMXG truly stood out amongst its peers,” said Fitzgerald. “With a solid safety culture built on teamwork, communication, respect, accountability, engagement and transparency between employees, management, and union leadership.”

Earning the achievement award has truly been a complete team effort. It starts with group leadership being committed to building a strong VPP culture by providing resources and manpower, supervisors declaring their specific work centers a safe site, and employees volunteering as VPP safe site representatives. Together it ensures safety and health is a critical part of daily activities.

“This recognition is a significant accomplishment and highlights our efforts in setting the highest standard of safety and occupational health for all organizations and demonstrates the exceptional commitment to protecting the safety and health of each other. EMXG is making a difference,” said Fitzgerald.

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Hill Air Force Base website.