Base safety partners with OSHA; contractors will be affected

By William Keely: 27th SOW Voluntary Protection Program coordinator

In November of 2008 Cannon Air Force Base began the process to be recognized as an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program Star site. Through this program Cannon will work with OSHA to make its already exceptional safety and health programs even stronger through four key elements: Management and employee involvement; Worksite analysis; Hazard prevention and control; and improved safety and health training. Everyone who works, to include contractors, or visits Cannon, benefits from a program that makes for a safer environment for everyone.

Under this program contractors will be looked at differently. In the past most contracts were awarded to those could perform the service most economically for the tax dollar. Under VPP, a contractor’s safety record will also be evaluated as part of the contract award process. This does not mean a contractor with a poor safety record cannot still be awarded a contract, only that Cannon will work with them to improve their record. Failure to improve may affect future contract opportunities. Any contractor working directly on Cannon must meet certain other criteria of the program that will be written into their contracts. Existing contracts will not be altered, but renewals and future contracts will be modified with the new requirements.

Under VPP even if a company does not have or set up an office on Cannon, but has business on Cannon, it must be informed about Cannon’s participation in the program and what it entails. According to the Federal Register notice 65:45649-45663 (full text available at: http://osha.gov/dcsp/vpp/index.html ), “The purpose of the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) is to emphasize the importance of, encourage the improvement of, and recognize excellence in employer-provided, employee-participative, and generally site-specific occupational safety and health programs. These programs are comprised of management systems for preventing or controlling occupational hazards. Sites employing these systems not only are working to remain compliant with OSHA’s rules, but also are striving to excel by using flexible and creative strategies that go beyond the requirements to provide the best feasible protection for their workers. In the process, these worksites serve as models for effective safety and health programs in their industries while reducing employee injuries and illnesses well below industry averages. Moreover, the demonstrated workers’ compensation cost reductions, reduced employee turnover, quality improvements, and other benefits to which VPP worksites testify are helping to convince skeptics that productivity, quality, profitability, and safety and health are complementary goals.”

Cannon’s goal is to have all the elements in place and apply for Star recognition by 2011; with everyone’s help we will be accepted. One thing we ask of anyone who enters the base is, if you see a hazard please take the time to call our Wing Safety Office at 784-2811 and let us know about it.

For more information on the Voluntary Protection Program call 784-2581.