Voluntary Protection Program: Stay safe, be involved

6 Mar 2015 | Pfc. Samantha Torres Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort strives to improve the overall safety of the Air Station by working with the Voluntary Protection Program and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Voluntary Protection Program is a cross functional program established by OSHA, to recognize superior performance in the field of health and safety. The program promotes workers’ safety through active and meaningful employee involvement, and works in conjunction with the Marine Corps’ safety management systems.

The Department of Defense operates on the most basic level of safety standards, while VPP elevates those standards to the highest levels, said Ron Lanoie, the director of safety aboard MCAS Beaufort.

"It is imperative that safety remains a core value throughout Marine Corps Installations East, because our primary mission is to support the Marines and sailors who train aboard our bases and stations in order to win wars in defense of this great nation," said Brig. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, the Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

When facing a safety hazard, be aware of the surrounding areas, and be sure all personnel around know about it, then try to eliminate it.

"It’s more of a proactive than reactive program," said Lanoie.

Leaders can instill the importance of safety to those around them by settting expectations, having zero tolerance for unsafe acts, leading by example, and correcting and recognizing individuals in a positive way.

When individuals choose to use VPP, it comes with software and personnel to enforce the program.

"It’s usually a five to seven year transition," said Lanoie," It’s not just implementing the program, your changing the culture of the people."

The biggest obstacle Castellvi faces is the aging civilian workforce. They represent and provide stability, continuity and military installation charged with training and supporting the operating forces. On the other hand, those civilian employees are so focused on the task at hand, that they oftentimes become resistant to change new management styles or initiatives.

"It is important that the military works hand in hand with the civilian workforce when it comes to safety," said Lanoie.

"Get involved, stay involved, and expect excellence," said Castellvi. "Leaders are accountable for all those under them, and should ensure there is an effective and viable safety program that is maintained and continuously being improved."