Table of Contents OSHA Home Page DOL Home Page Contact Us
  Happy Birthday VPP!
 
Valero’s Journey to Star
by Gary Summerville
Celebrating Valero's Star status are,  from left, Jeremy Bergeron, Valero Corporate Safety Director;  John Miles, OSHA Dallas Regional Office Administrator; Davis Layne, OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary; Rich Marcogliese, Valero Senior Vice President for Refining Operations; Bob Gregory, Valero Vice President and General Manager; Les Rucker, Valero  Director of Health, Safety, and Environment; Gary Summerville, Valero VPP Coordinator; Rick Kempf, Valero Manager for Refinery Safety; Ray Skinner, OSHA South Houston Area Office Director; and Gene Cotton, Valero Vice President for Regional Refining Operations.
Celebrating Valero's Star status are, from left, Jeremy Bergeron, Valero Corporate Safety Director; John Miles, OSHA Dallas Regional Office Administrator; Davis Layne, OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary; Rich Marcogliese, Valero Senior Vice President for Refining Operations; Bob Gregory, Valero Vice President and General Manager; Les Rucker, Valero Director of Health, Safety, and Environment; Gary Summerville, Valero VPP Coordinator; Rick Kempf, Valero Manager for Refinery Safety; Ray Skinner, OSHA South Houston Area Office Director; and Gene Cotton, Valero Vice President for Regional Refining Operations.  


Employee involvement was the cornerstone of the Valero Texas City Refinery's journey to VPP Star status. The company, which already had an excellent safety and health program in place for its 441 employees, set its sights on VPP in May 1998.

With full support of the refinery manager and senior management in the San Antonio Corporate Headquarters, Les Rucker, Director of Valero's Health, Safety, and Environmental Department and Rick Kempf, Safety Manager for the Texas City Refinery, met with OSHA South Houston Area Director Ray Skinner to see what it would take to earn Star status. Valero sent two employees to the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association regional conference in Albuquerque, NM, to get a better understanding of what VPP was all about and how to start the application and approval process. They learned that although there is no set route to Star status, there are some tried-and-true practices that have worked for other Star companies.

Valero chose to build its quest on a cornerstone of employee involvement- and encouraged employees at all levels as well as contractors to participate. An employee VPP promotions committee educated workers about the VPP process and what it means to be a Star site and began taking employees at all levels to VPP conferences and other Star worksites. In addition, the employees formed seven committees to address the objectives required to become a Star site. Every committee was open to any employee who wanted to be involved, and more than 140 of the company's 441 employees and 17 contractor employees participated.

The effort paid off. In November 2001, OSHA recommended the Valero Texas City Refinery for Star status. The company recently completed one of its biggest challenges since becoming a Star facility: completing the largest turnaround in its history on schedule and without a major safety or health-related incident.

But the Valero Texas City Refinery's journey with VPP is not yet over. The company plans to begin mentoring its contractors, other Valero sites, and other facilities to help them become VPP Star sites. It also plans to pursue the OSHA Dallas Regional Office's "Stars Among Stars" program to show its continued commitment to worker safety and health.
Summerville is an Instrument/Electrical Technician who was heavily involved in the Valero Texas Refinery's quest for VPP Star status.