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Buckley jumps into Voluntary Protection Program

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Buckley jumped into the Air Force's new safety initiative, the Voluntary Protection Program, Sept. 24 with a five-day assessment of the 460th Space Wing's safety programs. 

This is the first phase of the transition into the safety paradigm shift.

The VPP is an Occupational Health and Safety Administration program that promotes effective worksite-based safety and health. It will take the Air Force's safety program and enhance it to compete against OSHA standards, said Mr. Vance Lineberger, deputy of safety for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.

"This is not just about doing a program," Mr. Lineberger said. "This is about protecting our people, and the VPP will be the way Air Force handles safety and occupational health."

He said this is the start of changing the safety culture in the Air Force. Entering into the VPP will eventually develop a proactive mentality in Airmen when it comes to safety.
In the VPP, Buckley will vie for recognition in one of the OSHA VPP programs - star, merit or star demonstration. 

"The purpose for pursuing excellence in improving safety and occupational health of the workforce is to reclaim the lost mission capability caused by preventable accidents," Mr. Lineberger said.

According to OSHA, worksites that participate in VPP have 52 percent fewer people out of the workplace due to injuries than the average for their industries.

VPP will also give the day-to-day workers ownership of the program. Each employee has a hand in assessing their occupational risks, developing a plan to mitigate those risks and implementing that plan in their daily activities, he said.

During the assessment, a team of VPP representatives analyzed each of the 460th Space Wing's safety programs, interviewed employees and made shop visits to see how those current programs stacked up against VPP standards.

The next step for Buckley in the VPP is to educate the base about the assessment team's suggestions. Mr. Jeffrey Harder, the 460th SW Safety Office ground safety manager, said they'll start forming a strategy team comprised of two members from each industrial unit on base in the second week of October to start tweaking current safety initiatives and implementing new ones.

Next year, VPP representatives will visit Buckley to rate how the base is doing against OSHA VPP standards.

Mr. Harder said the assessment team was very pleased with what they found here at Buckley, and it will be a lot easier for Buckley to transition into the VPP than it has been for others even in the commercial industries.

For more information about the VPP, visit the VPP Web site.
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