Previously, the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DoD) was tasked with the effort of reducing the number of occupational injuries and illnesses occurring at their worksites nationwide. Over the past four years, 21 DoD facilities have been recognized as Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) New Star sites, and by the end of fiscal year 2009, DoD has plans to have an additional 15 Star sites approved to participate - making the total number of sites 36.
In December 2008, the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 (AASF #1), Fort Indiantown Gap, in Annville, Pennsylvania, became the first Army National Guard facility to be recognized as a Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) New Star site. AASF #1 is a union site and has approximately 170 and federal civil service employees. Unlike many of the DoD sites that have attained VPP Star Status, Fort Indiantown Gap is unique in that many of the workers are uniformed - federal civilians during the week and uniformed members of the National Guard on weekends. Work performed at AASF #1 is centered on conducting aircraft maintenance and repair, and training National Guard personnel for aircraft flight operations for domestic and overseas missions.
One of the main factors for AASF #1 when applying to VPP was partnering with VPP mentors from the Tobyhanna Army Depot and General Electric. In order to facilitate "bottom-up" change, the mentors suggested that the base form employee committees. One these committees were formed, AASF #1 quickly started to notice a drop in injury and illness rates on the base. Another very important mentor during the VPP application process was the Association of Civilian Technicians (ACT) - the union onsite. Union buy-in and participation was crucial to the base reaching its goals and helped to get management's cooperation quickly.
For the past three years, AASF #1 has averaged a TCIR rate of 3.3 which is 50 percent below the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) 2006 national average for this particular industry, and a three-year DART rate of 3.1 which is 28 percent below the 2006 BLS national average. Over the past year, the site has also experienced a 95 percent reduction in total lost workdays. The AASF commander published 2009 safety and health goals to reduce the TCIR and DART rate by 30 percent and the VPP team feels that this goal is achievable. The below table presents AASF #1's three-year injury and illness between 2006 and 2008:
|AASF #1 Three-Year Rate (2006-2008)||3.1||3.3|
|BLS Industry National Average for 2006||4.3||6.6|
|Percentage below BLS||-28%||-50%|
The National Guard's national headquarters located at Fort Rutgers in Alabama was so impressed with AASF #1 and the VPP process that they decided to make attaining VPP a national initiative for all the National Guard sites across the country. To assist the sites in getting started with this initiative, a VPP video with testimonials, including a two star general and the head of the Army National Guard (Region III site) was developed and disseminated. Representatives from OSHA's Harrisburg Area Office were invited to the annual Fort Indiantown Gap "Safety Stand Down Day" to be speakers on the VPP. During the event, all Fort Indiantown Gap employees were presented with the Guard's VPP video.
In April 2009, Region III's 14th Annual Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA) Safety Conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland. The VPPPA Region III Board of Directors invited Colonel Mahoney from AASF #1 to conduct a management leadership breakout session at the conference. The session was a huge success with over 70 participants attending.
ASSF #1 serves as an example for other Army National Guard sites working towards attaining VPP New Star recognition. Three more facilities in Pennsylvania plan to apply to VPP during the upcoming months and Guard sites throughout the country are working on implementing the VPP elements. There is full Union support at all of the Guard sites. The Fort Indiantown Gap's Pennsylvania's Army National Guard's VPP efforts have started a national awareness of VPP of this important and well-publicized agency, and Region III is at the forefront leading the way.
Origin: Region III, Philadelphia Area Office
Entered VPP: December 2008
Industry and NAICS/SIC Codes: Support Activities for Air Transportation (488190/4510)
Employees: 277 (223 + 54 contractors)
Sources (Date): Peter Brown, Team Leader, OSHA, Philadelphia Regional Office (June, 2009) and William Murray, American Forces Press ServiceBack to Top
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