148th Fighter Wing maintains world class safety rating
By Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington, 148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 09, 2011
DULUTH, Minn. -- July 25, 2011, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) announced that the148th Fighter Wing has maintained its prestigious Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star status after the April 25-28, 2011 evaluation. After the April 2008 inspection, the 148th had become the first Air Force (active duty, guard, or reserve) unit to achieve VPP Star status, and now it is the first Air Force unit to maintain that status as well.
"I'm proud for the wing--it validates our programs, and shows that we are a world class safety organization," said Senior Master Sgt. Todd A. Zinmer, 148th Fighter Wing Safety and Occupational Health Manger. "VPP has had a positive effect on the unit's safety culture. They (OSHA) say it's harder to maintain the Star status than it is to earn it the first time, but with the strong safety culture within the organization, it has become the new norm, and we're improving on that."
According to Senior Master Sgt. Zinmer, the inspection team from OSHA did not find any items that needed immediate attention after the inspection. Senior Master Sgt. Zinmer said there is always room for improvement and that the safety office continues to self identify issues.
The VPP inspection is different from other safety inspections in that it utilizes one-on-one interviews with key members of the organization being inspected to gain an in depth view of how that particular safety program functions.
"We could not have been successful without the outstanding efforts of every unit member," said Senior Master Sgt. Zinmer.
Senior Master Sgt. Zinmer credits 148th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Frank H. Stokes with providing the true management commitment and leadership. The VPP process requires continuous improvement, and according to Senior Master Sgt. Zinmer, the 148th is up to the challenge.
148th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Frank H. Stokes' philosophy on safety is proactive rather than reactive. "Let's not focus on the last accident--let's focus on preventing the next one," said Col. Stokes. According to Col. Stokes, maintaining VPP Star status is another achievement that further improves the reputation of the 148th.
"We have made great strides to get to the level that we are at today and we know that through the continued effort of wing personnel we will be at an even better state in the years to come," said Senior Master Sgt. Zinmer.