June 6, 2014, MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point’s continued focus on the welfare of its service members and civilian employees has prompted leadership here to adopt the Voluntary Protection Programs as the air station’s official safety standard.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s VPP recognizes and partners with businesses and worksites that show excellence in occupational safety and health.
VPP is a voluntary partnership with OSHA developed in 1982 to address worker safety and health issues and expand worker protection through the implementation of proactive, performance based elements. The four main components of a VPP are management leadership and employee involvement; worksite analysis; hazard prevention and control; and safety and health training. With the four components in place, leaders can focus on creating a proactive environment instead of a reactive safety environment.
“These programs create an exemplary workplace by allowing everyone to get involved,” said Edward Scott, the deputy director of safety and standardization aboard the air station. “Our goal with this program is to make our workplaces the safest places we can for everyone.”
While it is still too early to tell if workplace injuries on Cherry Point have decreased, Cmdr. Alejandro Alvarado, the installation’s safety manager, believes VPP is essential in reducing the number of workplace accidents, he said.
“From my experience at other commands using the VPP, I have seen that the program works and I have seen that the numbers go down,” said Alvarado.
Cherry Point, which currently holds “merit site” status, is now on its way to earning a “star” status through the program, said Scott. Merit sites are evaluated every 18-24 months. Star status is the highest and most challenging VPP participation category only given to sites that achieve and maintain injury and illness rates at or below the national average in their respective industries. Some of the benefits of earning star status include dramatic decreases in workplace injury and reduced frequency of mandatory OSHA safety inspections due to the workplace’s proven, sustained record of excellence.
“Every three years after earning a star status, OSHA comes back and reexamines businesses to make sure all requirements are still being complied with,” said Scott.
“The good thing about VPP is that it gets the employees involved,” said Scott. “If every employee is involved in safety then we can get the best process going to get our numbers under the national average.”