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Background

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Strategic Partnership (OSP) with the Department of Defense (DoD), United States Air Force (USAF) was signed in August 2007 for a term of three years. The OSP is managed by a Partnership Management Team (PMT) consisting of staff from OSHA’s Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs (DCSP), Office of Partnership and Recognition (OPR) and the Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP), Office of Federal Agency Programs (OFAP); OSHA Regions I, IV, and IX; and USAF. The current three year agreement is in effect through August, 2010. This evaluation covers OSP activities from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009 (Fiscal Year 2009).

Partnership Goals:

  • Goal 1: Reduce civilian and military workforce injuries and illnesses at each participating installation by three percent (3%) per year. This goal is consistent with the goals of the former President George W. Bush’s Safety, Health, and Return-to-Employment (SHARE) initiative. However, of note is the termination of the SHARE program on October 1, 2009

  • Goal 2: Expand USAF participation in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP)

  • Goal 3: Provide mechanisms for promoting contractor safety and health
The USAF originally targeted 20 installations to participate in the OSP. The OSP agreement allows installations to be added or deleted from participation during the agreement period without modification to the OSP. Four installations achieved VPP status during the evaluation period. Two additional installations received VPP recognition shortly after September 30, 2009. These six installations are referenced as VPP participants in this evaluation report. As of September 30, 2009 there were an additional 41 USAF installations covered by the Partnership and working toward qualifying for and applying to OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

Partnership Highlights and Results

The USAF continues to make progress in reaching the OSP goals. Results from this evaluation, as well as some of the strategies used to achieve them, are referenced below:

  • The use of diverse tools in the development and implementation of USAF safety and health management systems (SHMS):
    › Recordkeeping: In an effort to reduce occupational injuries and illnesses, the USAF focused on developing and maintaining sound case management and recordkeeping processes for civilian occupational injuries and illnesses. One strategy used was to ensure that the personnel responsible for recording worker injuries and illnesses and maintaining these records had received appropriate, specialized training.

    › Training: The OSP continues to build on its previous successes by conducting additional training courses. During this evaluation period, the USAF conducted 10 supervisory and leadership outreach training courses during which 240 workers were trained.
    a) A total of 4,560 training hours were provided. The courses were designed to help supervisors and workers s create a safe work culture at USAF installations.
    › CONOPS: The Concept of Operations Document (CONOPS) is a memorandum to USAF installations which strongly encourages commanders to embrace VPP as an industry proven means to make the USAF safer and to reduce injuries and illnesses. The memorandum was signed by Kevin Billings, then Acting Assistant Secretary for Installations, Environment, & Logistics (see Section 2c of the 2009 Evaluation document).

    › Contractor Program: The USAF developed and implemented a contractor policy document that was distributed to all installation commanders. The USAF policy establishes safety and health requirements and provides guidance and practical techniques for contractors coming onto USAF installations participating in the OSP. In addition, USAF provided contracting officers with the CONOPS, which outlines practical techniques to integrate contracting requirements into installation VPP efforts. The USAF continues to update this manual as needed to improve its contractor policies.

    › VPP-CX E-Tool: The primary strategy the USAF employs to achieve reductions in installation injury and illness rates as well as to gain VPP approval is to encourage installation participation in OSHA’s Challenge Program and use of the Challenge tool. OSHA Challenge is an electronic road map that assists employers interested in implementing effective safety and health management systems. Volunteer Administrators help guide participants through a three-stage process. OSHA Challenge is available to general industry and construction employers in private and public sectors under OSHA’s federal jurisdiction.

    The VPP-CX modified OSHA’s Challenge tool to create the DoD VPP-CX E-Tool tailoring it to USAF activities. Additionally, the DoD VPP Center of Excellence (VPP-CX) is assisting the OSP participants (similar to the role played by OSHA’s Challenge Administrators) by helping them perform initial gap analyses and develop plans for addressing SHMS deficiencies and by providing technical assistance. This E-Tool is being used at the 41 installations participating in the OSP and includes functional measures of actions, documentation, and outcomes.

    › Rate Results: Six USAF installations submitted applications for VPP during the evaluation period. Four of those six were approved for participation during this evaluation period. Two additional sites submitted their applications during the evaluation period but received their VPP approvals subsequent to the evaluation period. The USAF submitted injury and illness data for all six of the VPP recognized installations. These results are summarized below. While the OSP requires the USAF to submit data for all OSP participating installations, USAF only provided data for the six installations which attained VPP status. As a result, the agency’s ability to evaluate the overall impact of the OSP at the USAF OSP participating installations is limited.

    The average percent below the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average for the six VPP sites is Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) and the Days Away, Restricted and Transferred (DART) rate is 69% and 68% respectively. Figures are based on a range from 57% to 86% below for TCIR and 33% to 92% below for DART as reported by the participants. The following key injury and illness results were achieved by the six installations during the period CY 2006 through CY 2008:
    a) Total Case Incidence Rate (TCIR)
    • The average TCIR for the six VPP installations in 2008 was 1.37. This compares to a 2008 BLS TCIR of 4.2 for all general industry.1 This signifies that the 6 VPP installations had an aggregate TCIR that was 68% below the corresponding BLS industry average.

    • Similarly, the three year average TCIR for the 6 VPP installations was 1.5. This compares to a 3-year average BLS TCIR of 4.9 based on the appropriate industry averages.1 Overall this indicates that the 6 VPP installations had a 3-year average TCIR that was 69% below the corresponding 3-year BLS industry average.
    b) Days Away, Restricted, or Transfer (DART) Rate
    • The average DART rate for the 6 VPP installations in 2008 was 0.79. This compares to a 2008 average BLS DART rate for all general industry of 2.1,1 as well as to a 2008 BLS DART of 2.1 for all general industry. This signifies that the 6 VPP installations had an aggregate DART rate that was 58% below the corresponding BLS industry average.

    • Similarly, the 3-year average DART rate for the 6 VPP installations was 0.6. This compares to a 3-year average BLS DART rate of 2.2 based on the appropriate industry averages.1 Overall this indicates that the 6 VPP installations had a 3-year average DART rate that was 71% below the corresponding 3-year BLS industry average.

    • The 6 VPP installations combined experienced a 16% increase in DART rate between CY 2007 and CY 2008.
  • To increase the participation by USAF sites in OSHA’s VPP: To achieve this outcome the USAF has a goal to bring 10 installations into VPP during each year of the OSP. Two installations achieved VPP status during the OSP’s first year, and four installations achieved VPP status during the evaluation period. Two additional installations received VPP recognition shortly after September 30, 2009. Data from the six VPP installations is used to prepare this evaluation.
    › E-Tool Progress: The USAF developed and used the modified OSHA Challenge tool, VPP-CX E-Tool to asses the USAF installation’s progress in developing and implementing SHMS at its installations. Six of the 41 installations are 85% through the VPP-CX E-Tool process; two installations are 50% through the process; four installations are 40% through; and the remaining 29 installations are between 20% and 30% through the process. Using the VPP-CX E-Tool, the USAF provides detailed progress reports on these installations to the VPP-CX.

    › Number of VPP Sites: During this evaluation period four OSP installations received VPP Star recognition, two installations received STAR recognition shortly after the end of this evaluation period, and 41 installations were working toward applying to VPP. The USAF installations accepted into OSHA’s VPP during the evaluation period as well as the two additional sites are:
    a) 88 Medical Group, Wright Patterson AFB, OH (November 7, 2008)
    b) Hanscom Air Force Base/Electronics Systems Center, Hanscom AFB, MA (August 3, 2009)
    c) 115 Fighter Wing, Madison, WI (September 18, 2009)
    d) 402 Software Maintenance Group, Robins AFB, GA (September 18, 2009)
    e) Aeronautical Systems Center, Headquarters Element, Wright Patterson AFB, OH (November 12, 2009)
    f) David Grant Medical Center, Travis AFB, CA (January 6, 2010)
    › Best Practices: Since the OSP was signed in 2007, eight of the participating installations have achieved VPP recognition. These installations developed Best Practices (BP) as part of their efforts to achieve VPP recognition. BPs are innovative methods or systems within the SHMS that result in successful outcomes. The USAF has identified several BPs developed for its installations. Below are three examples. Additional BPs are identified in Section 2c of this evaluation report.
    a) The 402 Software Maintenance Group personnel with medical alerts have a designation on their identification badge. Jewelry, such as medical alert bracelets, is prohibited in some shop areas, and the badge designation aids emergency responders.
    b) The 115th Fighter Wing’s Air Force Safety Automated System (AFSAS) contained an excellent algorithm for assessing root cause as part of its incident investigation report.
    c) The 148th Fighter Wing Duluth increased the effectiveness of communication between labor and management by promoting active involvement in ESOH (Environmental, Safety, and Occupational Health) Committee and OSP meetings.
Conclusions

Since entering the OSP agreement on August 25, 2008, the USAF has worked together with OSHA and the VPP-CX and has accomplished activities including enhancements to its installations SHMS and the approval of 8 USAF installations in OSHA’s VPP. Four installations achieved VPP status during the evaluation period. Two additional installations received VPP recognition shortly after September 30, 2009. These six installations achieved some positive results related to injury and illness experiences based on the data USAF submitted. While the OSP requires the USAF to submit data for all OSP participating installations, USAF only provided data for the six installations which attained VPP status during this reporting period. As a result, the agency’s ability to evaluate the overall impact of the OSP at the USAF OSP participating installations is limited.

During the final year of the OSP, OSHA and USAF will continue to work together to address safety and health improvements at participating installations. In addition, OSHA and USAF will work together to develop a system to facilitate the transmission of required OSP data so that the impact of the OSP may be fully evaluated.

 
1 The BLS industry average for all general industry for 2008 TCIR is 4.2, and DART is 2.1. Because each of the six participants has different NAICS codes, the TCIR and DART rates used for comparison were for all general industry for 2008.