AMC begins implementation of Voluntary Protection Program

  • Published
  • By Angel Lopez
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
Air Mobility Command recently began implementing a Department of Defense initiative at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., to help eliminate mishaps and create a safer environment for Airmen, civilians and their families.

The Voluntary Protection Program, developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1982, will serve as the DoD's assessment tool to effectively evaluate practices of the Air Force.

Federal and private agencies participating in the VPP are assessed by criteria set forth by OSHA. Sites are qualified and placed into one of three programs: Star, Merit, and Star Demonstration. Many agencies make qualifying for the Star Program their long-term goal because it represents an effective process and an "exemplary worksite." Industries that have reached the Star status experience 50 percent fewer accidents than non-VPP worksites.

VPP is a key element in achieving the Secretary of Defense's goal to reduce mishaps by 75 percent, said Johnny Wood, chief of AMC Ground Safety. "We will not reach that goal using the same practices and operating our programs with the same methods as in the past. We must try something new and VPP is a proven means to reduce accidents."

Recently Travis AFB joined nine other Air Force bases that participated in an initial roll out of the OSHA VPP during fiscal year 2006. AMC plans to have all other bases implementing VPP by the end of fiscal year 2009.

As all of AMC's bases implement the initiative, the command will continue to seek ways to eliminate mishaps and create an environment safe for Airmen and their families. Furthermore, VPP will help AMC's mission by improving readiness, cutting costs, increasing morale, and enhancing programs already in place, said Michael May, an AMC Occupational Safety Health Specialist.

Additionally, Mr. Wood stressed the role Airmen play in reducing mishaps.

"Nobody knows their job better than the person doing it," said Mr. Wood. "Hopefully, this will provide AMC personnel with an avenue to find better ways to do their job."

According to Mr. Wood, employee involvement is a key element in VPP.

"Wing safety personnel, bioenvironmental engineers, and fire department members will train people to recognize the hazards that are in their everyday work place," said Mr. May. VPP creates an environment that encourages personnel to recognize and learn how to deal with these hazards.

More importantly, Airmen and their families must work to prevent mishaps from happening. "They're exposed to it [and] they're the ones [who are] going to be injured if it does happen," said Mr. May. "VPP also requires equal accountability and a written discipline system at all levels."