BREMERTON, Wash. —
Management and bargaining unit representatives at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility signaled their commitment to safety with the signing of an application Feb. 18, 2021, to become a Star Site under the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program.
“The safety of our teammates is of paramount importance to all of us,” said Capt. Jip Mosman, commander, PSNS & IMF. “Management and our labor partners are united in ensuring we are all doing our part to make the worksite here as safe as possible.”
OSHA’s VPP program was created to recognize employers and workers in federal agencies and private industry that have implemented effective safety and health management systems while maintaining injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries.
Participating in VPP means management, labor and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries and illnesses through systems focused on hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, management commitment and workforce involvement. If the VPP application is accepted by OSHA, the command will submit an extensive annual VPP self-assessment that includes any shortfalls, the plan to overcome those, and specific goals on continual improvement. As a VPP site, PSNS & IMF will be held to a much higher standard than OSHA requires of non-VPP sites, but it will also allow the command an exemption from OSHA inspections for three to five years.
An advocate of worker safety for more than a century, the Bremerton Metal Trades Council reiterated that commitment at the signing ceremony along with their intent to continue being a strong partner in reducing workplace-related injuries and illnesses.
“VPP operating in concert with the command’s Safety Management System can be an excellent vehicle to advance the health, safety and wellbeing of the people who work here,” said Edward Mannen, BMTC vice president. “It will also help us advance work practices and procedures to maintain, modernize and retire our Navy’s fleet in a continuously improving safe, healthful and environmentally-responsible manner.”
The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 12, also pledged its full support to become a VPP Star Site.
“We encourage our members to participate in and support safe practices in the shipyard as well as the goal to become a VPP Star Site,” said Thomas Calkins, IFPTE Local 12 president. “We are happy to come together with management to support the Safety Management System and the efforts to reach our common goal of a safe, healthful and incident-free workplace.”
Now that all parties have endorsed the agreement, the command will submit the application and relevant documents to verify the command meets the stringent requirements including the Total Case Incident Rate and Days Away, Restricted or Transferred. The entire process will take several months and includes on-site reviews, consultations and interviews with employees.
Both IFPTE and BMTC encouraged their members to support these efforts as well, doing their utmost to make the shipyard an even safer place to work. Mosman agreed.
“We’re looking forward to working with our BMTC and IFPTE partners along with all shipyard colleagues in achieving Star Site status but, ultimately, this effort is about much more than this status,” said Mosman. “This is about ensuring our people return home safely to their loved ones every single day.”