Enhancing performance with VPP

  • Published
  • By Lanorris Askew
  • 78 ABW/PA
Unless you've been completely unplugged for the past year it's doubtful that, as a member of Team Robins, you have not, at least in passing, heard of the Voluntary Protection Program. Commonly known as VPP, the initiative, sometimes considered as just another safety program, has seen its efforts broaden to an initiative that is enhancing the performance of the air logistics center here.

"Early on in our efforts, many personnel, at all levels, were very skeptical," said Melanie Clearman, VPP program manager. "They were afraid it was going to be a burden to implement and they expected another increase in work, with little return."

She added that some were unwilling to invest much time and energy, believing that VPP wouldn't be around long enough to make a difference, but now, people are excited about the changes they've seen.

"They recognize the benefits of a safer workplace and a safer workforce," she said. "They recognize the collaborative effort it takes to make this work and they see the benefits of that as well.

They also recognize that at its most basic, VPP is about caring about one another."

In a recent story on enhancing the performance of the ALC, Brig. Gen. Lee Levy, 402nd Maintenance Wing commander, used VPP as an example of the way ahead.

"It's not just about employees working to find safer ways of operating in the workplace, but it gets that dialogue going," the general said. "We start asking, 'how can we do better - not just safer but better?' VPP helps get the workforce and management more engaged, and that's never a bad thing."

According to Clearman, VPP is the ultimate partnership between labor and management and has a simple pull that engages the workforce. "Regardless of your position, you want to go home safely at the end of the day and return to work safely the next day," she said. "Working together, with that goal in mind, gets everyone involved."

From November 2008 to November 2009, the ALC experienced a nine percent reduction in the total case incident rate and a 20 percent reduction in the days away, restricted or transferred rate.

"This means that less of our folks are getting hurt," said Clearman. "We are working safer, going home safer and returning the next day in a safer manner. Not only is this significant in reducing pain and suffering, whether it's a result of something on the job or something which occurs at home, it helps to ensure that the workforce is present, doing the job we need to do to support the warfighter."

OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program is an open ended process and the goal for Robins is to see it spread.

"Our ultimate goal is VPP Star status, fence to fence," said Clearman. "There is no doubt that we can do it. Sustainment is key. We need continued emphasis and commitment at all levels to help us get where we want to be."