DULUTH, Minn. --
On the corner of Mustang Drive and Voodoo Street at the 148th Fighter Wing, the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) flag flies proudly to display the wing’s STAR rating since 2008. The wing was the first Air Force (active duty, guard, or reserve) unit to achieve the Voluntary Protection Program status in 2008, a high bar with Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ratings, the wing was also recertified in 2011 and 2016.
VPP is an OSHA recognition program which recognized the 148th Fighter Wing’s Safety and Health Management system for outstanding safety efforts and is scheduled to be reinspected this April.
“We are only one of two units to have the program fence to fence, meaning the entire wing received recognition for passing inspection within the program,” said Master Sgt. Craig Honkola, Safety Technician.
The program encompasses four pillars: Management Leadership and Employee Involvement, Worksite Analysis, Hazard Prevention and Control, and Safety and Health Training. The VPP is one way of many ways an airman could get involved with identifying hazards and taking actions to eliminate them.
Representatives from the Federal OSHA program and special government employees will come in April for nearly a week, conducting interviews of all ranks and positions with inspections across the wing.
“The number one thing, no matter what AFSC, we need you to understand what your role in VPP is,” said Master Sgt Sean O’Connor, Occupation Safety Manager. “Even down to the most junior of Airmen – it is essential to actively identify hazards and take the necessary action to eliminate them.”
An example which happened under the VPP was in 2019, involving the loading docks behind the chow hall. The employees identified a crumbling loading dock, and reported to the safety office. The safety office created a risk assessment and presented the assessment to leadership. The hazard was minimizing by replacing the loading dock, within a reasonable time-period – eliminating any future hazards. “Because of this partnership across all levels, it prevented future mishaps,” said O’Conner. “Leadership and employee (airmen) dedication to safety is key to the success of the program. Leadership will look at a risk assessment and prioritize them to probability of danger and the severity of the hazard that is likely to occur – this is a main and vital part of the program.
If you have any questions or safety concerns – contact the 148th Fighter Wing at 218-788-7286.