148th Fighter Wing Recertifies VPP Star Status

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Megan Shaner
  • 148th Fighter Wing

On April 30, 2008, the 148th Fighter Wing became the first unit in the Air Force to receive recognition as an Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Worksite. Recently, the Wing received notification it has been officially recertified as an OSHA VPP Star Worksite effective February 15, 2023. The recertification comes after an inspection which was completed at the 148th Fighter Wing on November 7, 2022.

VPP is an OSHA recognition program used to promote safety and health in the workplace. The Star Program gives “recognition for employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards in the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.”

The 148th Fighter Wing is one of only two Air Force units that are considered fence-to-fence VPP Star Sites. “VPP is a whole Wing focus, and not just the safety and health programs focus.” said Master Sgt. Sean O’Connor, the Wing Safety and Occupational Health Manager. “It takes a village – everyone from the commander down to the newest airman fosters a culture of safety at our Wing.”

Tech. Sgt. Jessica Spaeth has been a Unit Safety Representative (USR) in POL since 2020. She enjoys the way her USR role challenges her to look at various tasks and operations through a different lens. “(VPP) is something to be proud of as a Wing,” said Spaeth. “The recognition is a reflection not just of a single accomplishment, but rather a culture that we maintain here at the 148th.”

According to the Department of Defense Safety Management Center of Excellence, as of February 11, 2023, 161 Department of Defense sites achieved an active Star recognition. The DOD estimates $16.7M in annual cost savings due to reduced safety and health incidents.

“I’m extremely proud of the men and women of the 148th Fighter Wing for the work they accomplish every day in all conditions while always keeping safety at the forefront.” said Col. Nate Aysta, Wing Commander. “148th members have demonstrated they can safely work in all environments throughout the base and it is nice that OSHA has verified our positive safety protocols and culture throughout the entire organization.”

The 148th Fighter Wing is an F-16CM Fighting Falcon equipped Air National Guard flying wing located in Duluth, Minn.