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Air Force officials test Voluntary Protection Program

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Geoff Buteau
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Air Force officials conducted the first Voluntary Protection Program mock audit to evaluate the overall safety of the base as a work site March 24 through 28 at Hanscom Air Force Base. 

VPP originates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and focuses on incorporating the Air Force's culture of safety in the air, on the ground, at work, at home and at play. 

The mock audit is in preparation for when OSHA conducts its onsite review of Hanscom AFB. An outbriefing is scheduled for April 11 to provide feedback to base officials. The review date has yet to be determined. 

The team was pleased to see how broadly the VPP reaches throughout all the different organizations here, said Lt. Col. Wade Weisman, a mock audit team member from the secretary of the Air Force's Office of Installations, Environment and Logistics.

"VPP team leads aren't just in one office, but are spread out and integrated through the organization, and that's exciting to us," Colonel Weisman said.

During the mock audit, the team evaluated the "Three P's," which Colonel Weisman said are "paper, people and places."
-- Paper. The team inspected all safety documents and policies; many of which are contained in the Safety Office or on the Intranet.
-- People. The mock audit team interviewed a wide range of people, including senior leaders. Team members focused on perceptions and effectiveness of the installation safety and health performance.
--Places. The team visited various work sites to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and determine if the safety practices outlined in guidance and discussed by personnel are put in practice in the workplace.

The goal of this process is to match what is written and what people are saying to what is actually happening, Colonel Weisman said.

He also said it's not necessarily about being perfect. If there is a problem, the inspection team will evaluate the organization's ability to address it. If there is a system in place to fix those problems when they arise, "that's just as important as having it perfect."

The significance of this training is to become an OSHA Star-certified site, said Rolen Johns, the 66th Air Base Wing Safety Office director.

"Safety is good here at Hanscom AFB, but (a Star-certified) VPP program enhances it," Mr. Johns said.

Star-certifications and good safety scores aside, Mr. Johns said it comes down to people being safe while they're working at Hanscom AFB. 

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