Edwards Air Force Base   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

News > New VPP office dedicated to helping workers ensure safety in their workplaces
New VPP office dedicated to helping workers ensure safety in their workplaces

Posted 6/22/2011   Updated 6/22/2011 Email story   Print story


by Diane Betzler
Staff Writer

6/22/2011 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Now that most of the wrinkles have been ironed out concerning how to best use the Voluntary Protection Program, officials said the Edwards workforce, management and union have forged a partnership to enhance safety on base.

The VPP is a program designed to enlist front-line workers to help ensure their work areas are safe. Employees are encouraged to identify workplace hazards via a simple reporting system - anonymously if they so choose - so steps can be taken to fix those hazards before someone is injured.

To help the program progress, the base opened a new VPP office, located in Bldg. 3940, room 215.

Leroy Wrighten, Air Force Flight Test Center Ground Safety, mans the office part-time. It's a place where people can go for guidance and to facilitate organizations that are incorporating VPP into their units.

"When safety concerns are identified, we form a group to work on the issue and fix it," Mr. Wrighten said.

He said they do that by understanding safety issues and by making the workforce aware of those issues.

"We work with people who do the work and have a good feel for what it takes to keep the operation safe," Mr. Wrighten said.

Although VPP itself was introduced to Edwards in early 2007, officials said there were a lot of misinterpretations about how to carry out the program, and as a result implementing it has been challenging.

"Initially there were too many chiefs out there who had different opinions on what the VPP is all about," said George Amaya, American Federation of Government Employees Local 1406 president.

Mr. Amaya said the union, workforce and management have worked together researching how to implement the program, to understand each role and what they all need to do to bring awareness of existing safety programs to everyone who lives or works on base.

He said the union's participation is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the role of Local 1406 is to provide knowledge and guidance.

"We play a vital role in the program because we are the exclusive representatives of the employees," Mr. Amaya said.

Mr. Amaya and Mr. Wrighten said Edwards has one of the best safety programs in government and their role is to make it even better.

The VPP leaders said the role of the Edwards workforce is to be aware and identify any safety issues they might come across within their work environment.

When the VPP office is notified about a particular safety issue, the staff will identify the issue and work it with the experts for that particular issue.

Mr. Wrighten said reporting a potential safety issue can also be done online and the person can remain anonymous if he or she prefers.

"Personnel can go to the Edwards Portal page and on the left-hand side of the menu and click on Safety and Security and then click on Safety," he said.

Once there, click on the "Near-Miss," tool, a form will come up that can be filled out and submitted to the safety office.

"The beauty of the system is that it also allows communication between employees and their employer," Mr. Amaya said.

"We're here to ensure we continue to maintain a safe and healthy work environment," Mr. Wrighten said. "We can do that if we all work together," he said.

In addition, Mr. Wrighten said as the workforce becomes aware and pays more attention to potential safety issues, they can bring that awareness to their home environment as well.

"The VPP trickles down and people become more safety conscious at home as well," Mr. Amaya agreed.

For more information concerning VPP, contact the VPP office at 277-4777.

No comments yet.  
Add a comment

 Inside Edwards

ima cornerSearch

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     USA.gov     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act