The VPP model requires that sites go beyond compliance with OSHA standards by implementing a safety and health management system (SHMS). A SHMS is a system of linked program elements designed to reduce on-the-job hazards. Management leadership and employee involvement are elements of a SHMS and are important in ensuring that everyone at a worksite shares responsibility for a safe and healthy working environment. The success of Milliken & Company's Elm City facility in achieving this type of environment is driven by the 100 percent participation and commitment of the facility's employees and management, known as associates.
According to Plant Manager Jimmy Tuley, "At the Elm City plant, we are 100% committed to the Voluntary Protection Programs. By following the VPP guidelines, we find it easy to reach our safety and health objectives. It is a tremendous asset to have OSHA models to follow to promote a good safety program."
From associates' initial 12-week safety orientation period through their active participation in VPP subcommittees, safety audit process, and Nets Card hazard reporting system, every associate at the Elm City facility is actively involved in VPP.
The safety organization in each of the company's facilities, including the Elm City location, has an overall safety steering committee chaired by production and/or administrative associates with management acting as reference/resource/guideline coaches or sponsors. All steering committees have five to nine subcommittees reporting to them by production and/or administrative associates. Subcommittees are determined by the hazards and risks identified within the facility.
Some examples of Milliken's VPP Subcommittees include:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): This subcommittee ensures that each associate has the correct PPE to perform their job. It also reviews the need for new PPE throughout the plant and conducts PPE audits to ensure that all associates are utilizing their PPE properly.
Safety Awareness: Members of this subcommittee promote safety on and off the job. Their goal is to promote activities that keep safety continuously on the minds of associates. This is achieved through safety meetings, health fairs, seat belt audits, slogan contests, etc.
Milliken Quality Safety Process (MQSP): The MQSP subcommittee works as a liaison with other committees to ensure that audits are developed and completed that focus on a process that examines the actions and thought processes of workers.
Fire & Emergency: This subcommittee is composed of all first responders who conduct routine drills to ensure that the plant is prepared for emergencies.
Process Hazards: Associates on this committee identify and correct potential hazards throughout the facility. They focus on new equipment and ensure that lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures are properly implemented.
Ergonomics and Materials Handling: This subcommittee provides training and conducts audits to ensure that all associates perform their jobs in an ergonomically-correct manner.
Safety and Health Audits: Every associate performs two audits every four weeks. Audits have been developed for each subcommittee. Audits identify potential safety hazards and ensure that the appropriate subcommittee eliminates the hazards.
Employee Hazard Reporting System: If associates identify potential hazards, they complete a "NETS Card," which identifies the location and type of hazard observed. This process started as a result of a measurement of control process that reviewed compliance with rules, procedures and regulations in the plant. Six categories were identified, including: LOTO; Ergonomics; Dock Safety; Contractor Safety; PPE; and Rules and Procedures.
Completed NETS Cards can be given to a department manager or deposited, anonymously, into one of the drop boxes located throughout the facility. Each potential hazard is tracked on the Safety Action Request System until it has been eliminated.
Accident/Incident Investigations: Associates also serve on the "Five Why" Teams assigned to immediately investigate each incident. Each team seeks answers to the following questions about each incident: when, where, why, what, and how. These investigation teams will not end their meeting until they recommend a solution to the cause of the incident.
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