Back to Success with VPP
Fite Fire and Safety is a leading supplier of services and safety products and offers protection, detection, and/or testing equipment. Safety services that the company offers include: Turn Around Safety Services such as "Safe Breathing Air," Safety Equipment Rentals, Safety Supplies, Safety/Medical Technicians, Safety/ Medical /Rescue Equipment Trailer, Rescue Services, and Atmospheric Monitoring Equipment. Other services the company offers include: Emergency Vehicle Maintenance, Rescue Services, Rescue Teams for confined space and high angle rescue, Atmospheric Monitoring Equipment, Emergency Shower & Eyewash Equipment, Safety Consulting, Hazard Surveys, Emergency Lighting, Fall Protection Equipment, H-9 Surveys, Onsite Safety Supervision, Permit Evaluations, and Excavation and Trenching supervision. The company’s corporate office is located in Midland, Texas. Its mission is “Protecting People, Property, and the Environment,” and its vision is “To Be the Safety Company of Choice.” The Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), launched in 1982, is OSHA’s premier safety and health recognition program. Fite Fire and Safety was first recognized as an OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Star participant on May 18, 2006. Their VPP status was reapproved on September 30, 2010. The information below was taken from the article, “Fite Uses OSHA Certification as Springboard to Business Awards,” written by reporter Paul Wiseman.
Striving for Safety and Health Excellence Separates Fite Fire and Safety from its Competition
Winning business awards such as Small Business of the Year awards from the state of Texas and the Midland Chamber of Commerce, both for 2010, plus the 2009 Spirit of Texas Small Business Award from the governor’s office through the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among others, started for Fite Fire and Safety with a question. That question involved how to make the company stand out from its competition. Company president Lyn Fite said that, during the oil price crash of 1999, “We began to look at our business plan and to come up with a way to make the peaks and valleys not so deep. We asked hard questions such as what do we need to do and how do we need to do it to smooth things out.” They were disappointed in the answer received. “In the final evaluation, we did not look any different from anyone else. We found ourselves cutting prices to get bids just like everyone else. That was a real eye-opener,” Mr. Fite said.
Mr. Fite began the search for “something that would put us a cut above. We had to change our business model.” After evaluating several excellence programs that seemed either too costly or to be inappropriate for their business, Mr. Fite said a customer asked him to look into OSHA’s VPP. After researching the program, it appeared that VPP fit perfectly within the company’s business model of supplying safety training and equipment. “I liked VPP because it gives us instant credibility in the industry,” Mr. Fite stated. It took to years and about $50,000 in upgrades and employee training to achieve the VPP status. The first step was to have an OSHA VPP team come to the facility and evaluate the situation and recommend upgrades. After complying with the list, the inspection team returned for verification and the company was soon reapproved.
Injury and Illness Rates: Flawless Days Away, Restricted, and Transferred (DART) Rate and Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) Due to Emphasis on Safety Training
Safety training is a top priority for Fite Fire and Safety and the company offers OSHA training, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) training, and education ranging from basic overviews to multi-day “Train-the Trainer” courses. Several of the course offerings were reviewed by the American Council on Education (ACE) and recommended for undergraduate credit. OSHA figures show that, in general, for every dollar a company spends on safety training and measures, it reaps 4 dollars in decreased down time and other productivity improvements. Mr. Fite says that the increase has been many times that. Due to the emphasis on safety training and services, it is the likely reason as to why Fite Fire and Safety has never experienced a recordable injury, illness, or fatality. The table below presents Fite Fire and Safety’s injury and illness rates since it was approved as a VPP participant in May 2006:
Fite Fire and Safety Also Participates in Special Government Employee Program
In 2008, Mr. Fite and company Vice President, Tim Nolen, went a step further by becoming Special Government Employees (SGE) for OSHA. This allowed them to be on evaluation teams that oversee other companies' VPP star certifications and recertification. It also allows Mr. Fite and Mr. Nolen to be mentors for those companies. They have assisted OSHA as the VPP Coordinator, as well as the Compliance Assistance Specialist for the West Texas area (79 counties and all the federal entities in New Mexico) on several VPP audits of other companies. Being an SGE has allowed Mr. Fite to travel to many places he would not have otherwise seen, including some areas that require high security clearance.
Mr. Fite believes that striving to achieve VPP status was the best thing he ever did for Fite Fire and Safety. Besides enjoying an injury-free workplace, he believes that his VPP participation has made his business a financial success as well. “We were the first VPP Star worksite in Midland, and we are still the only one,” Mr. Fite related. Mr. Fite spends a lot of time, energy and monetary resources to promote VPP and is convinced the time and effort paid off in exactly the way he envisioned. “This opened the door for us to do business with majors and larger independents who knew we had partnered with OSHA and what it involved for us to get there.” Mr. Fite said. He added, “We put our VPP Star Worksite logo on everything we have. People who see that come to us and say, ‘We want to do business with you.’ They don’t ask about price, procedures or anything because they see we have that certification.” He also believes that the previously listed awards, which generally came from nominations originating outside his company, are also driven by the general attitude of excellence engendered by the VPP procedures.
Origin: Region VI, Midland, Texas
Entered VPP: May 2006; reapproved September 2010
Industry Description (NAICS Code): Industrial Utilities (423840)
Source (Date): Sheila Schulmeyer, Compliance Assistance Specialist, OSHA El Paso Area and Lubbock District Offices (Region VI); Jim Boom, Safety and Health Occupational Specialist, OSHA National Office; and Danielle Gibbs, Program Analyst, OSHA National Office (March 2011).