NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center celebrated a major workplace achievement June 9 with a flag ceremony to signify its status as a VPP (Voluntary Protection Program) Star site, a designation of safety excellence.
"I am extremely proud of the entire Stennis team," Deputy Director Rick Gilbrech said. "Achieving Voluntary Protection Program Star site status is a great accomplishment that demonstrates the commitment and involvement from all of our NASA contractors and civil servants. Our VPP journey began back in 2007 and reflects a lot of hard work on everyone's part. The dramatic improvements in our safety record reflect a true culture change and underpin the emphasis we as site leaders place on protecting our most valuable resource – our talented people."
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration established VPP in 1982 as a proactive safety management model so organizations and their employees could be recognized for excellence in safety and health. Since then, more than 2,000 organizations, including several NASA centers, have been designated VPP Star sites.
To reach that goal, an organization must demonstrate comprehensive and successful safety and health management programs in the workplace. This includes achieving injury and illness rates at or below the national average of their respective industries.
In the evaluation process, OSHA reviews safety and health policies and conducts onsite visits as well. Once VPP Star status is achieved, OSHA returns at regular intervals to make sure designated sites are continuing in safety and health efforts.
NASA and its five major NASA contractors worked together and underwent OSHA review to receive Star status. Throughout that process, Stennis officials worked to educate the center workforce of the importance of good safety and health practices.
VPP status is more than a designation for organizations. Reports indicate VPP Star sites see a decline in injuries and lost time, as well as a drop in workers' comp rates. Leaders say the safety and health emphasis also promotes a deeper sense of teamwork, especially at a site like Stennis, where multiple agencies must coordinate their efforts.
For information about Stennis Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/.
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