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Protecting People: 78th MSG applies VPP changes to keep personnel safe during pandemic

Photo shows an Airman spraying disinfectant on seats inside a bus.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- An Airman with the 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, sanitizes the inside of one of their passenger buses for viruses like COVID-19 Aug. 19, 2020. As part of the Voluntary Protection Program, squadrons within the 78th Mission Support Group have altered their daily activities to protect their employees and customers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. (courtesy photo)

Photo shows an Airman indoors spraying disinfectant around his work area.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- An Airman with the 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, sanitizes the common work areas for viruses like COVID-19 Aug. 19, 2020. As part of the Voluntary Protection Program, squadrons within the 78th Mission Support Group have altered their daily activities to protect their employees and customers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. (courtesy photo)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Squadrons within the 78th Mission Support Group have taken extra measures through the Voluntary Protection Program to keep their staff and customers safe as the pandemic continues.

As part of VPP, the 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 78th Security Forces Squadron and the 78th Force Support Squadron recently reviewed their work centers and processes to determine what measures could be taken to better protect customers and those serving their missions.

VPP, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiative that promotes worksite safety and health through hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training and cooperation, was established in 1982 by OSHA to recognize superior performance in the field of safety and health. 

The Defense Safety Oversight Council later selected VPP for Defense Department implementation, and the program began at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in 2006.

Stephenia Covington, a 78th LRS Unit Safety representative, said her squadron has taken many physical measures to keep people safer.

“78th LRS Packing and Crating Section altered a 40-passenger bus by adding a door made of wood and special glass to protect the bus driver from potentially infected passengers,” she said. “The glass dividers were also made for command support staff, the commander’s secretary in Building 255, the Traffic Management Office’s customer service desk in Building 914 and Individual Protective Equipment in Building 127.”

Covington said sanitation stations have also been set up at the entrance of each of the units’ buildings.

Likewise, the 78th SFS has taken measures to help people social distance for everyone’s safety.

“For the unit as a whole, we have implemented the requirement of face masks and coverings, and social distancing since about March 1,” Covington said. “Hand sanitizers were placed at the entry of all 78th SFS buildings, to include the main installation gates.”

In the pandemic’s early days, 78th SFS, like other base units, utilized teleworking and staggering in-person work shifts.

78th SFS training section acquired a virtual reality training system in April, providing effective and efficient training without person-to-person physical contact, Covington said.

Other annual training that requires hands-on or close contact have been rescheduled to dates later in the calendar year.

As the unit’s workforce returned to full capacity, the unit ensured every entry point had a story board displaying mandatory protective measures while inside its facilities.

Extra disposable gloves were placed at the gates, the Visitor Control Center, Reports and Analysis, and also given out to security forces members to have on their persons, Covington said.

Additionally, Covington said the unit’s commander purchased ultra-violent flashlights for the installation gates, eliminating the need for the security forces members to physically touch base identification cards.

Single entry points were established for all of the unit’s buildings, and a shift schedule was created so that facilities could be sanitized at least three times a day.

Airmen who make a permanent change of station to Robins or return from deployment or a temporary duty assignment are mandated to quarantine for 14 days, per unit policy.

The unit’s commander has also applied a two-hour leave policy along with a special COVID-19 leave request form that requires approval at the master sergeant or superintendent level. Leave outside that two-hour window requires higher approval authority.

Security forces has taken countless other safety measures to protect the health and safety of all who work in and use its services of its various areas throughout the squadron, Covington said.

Along with 78th LRS and 78th SFS, the 78th FSS has also put protective measures in place to protect its employees and customers.

78th FSS has made some changes to Robins Lanes Bowling Center by placing sanitation stations around the center.  

The bowling center staff added signage to concourse tables and shields have been added for customer and cashier protection.

Social distancing signage has also been added around 78th FSS facilities, and bowling policies have been updated to align with social distancing and germ management protocols.

In the end, Covington said all of the effort is about protecting the Robins’ community.