The Voluntary Protection Program, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration program, awarded its highest rating to Red River Army Depot in a ceremony Thursday, Jan. 21. Red River is the first to achieve VPP Star Status within the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.
During the ceremony, OSHA officials presented the VPP Star rating plaque and flag to the depot.
“What a great day it is for Red River,” said RRAD Commander Col. Brandon L. Grubbs. “This is a deserving recognition not only for the depot but for all the team members who serve and make this depot work.”
Several awards were presented for support of the VPP status including the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Civilian Service presented to Richard Swantek. Swantek also received a two-star note from Maj. Gen. Gwen Bingham, TACOM Commanding General.
Senator Ted Cruz also issued a personal letter of appreciation to Grubbs and Red River for achieving VPP Star Status.
“Of course this achievement certainly comes as no surprise,” the letter states. “The men and women at Red River Army Depot are part of an elite class of Americans, those who continually uphold our constitution’s promise of liberty and commitment to our Nation’s Security.”
Grubbs also presented Commander’s Certificates to AECOM and Earline Farling for supporting a safe and healthy work environment.
OSHA’s VPP recognizes and partners with companies/work sites that show excellence in occupational safety and health. Sites are committed to effective employee protection beyond the requirements of OSHA standards.
Safety has become a culture for Red River. The depot continually stresses the importance of safety to its members, encouraging them to make VPP their own program with mottos like “Who’s responsible for Safety? I am!”
“You have a lot of things you do that are dangerous,” said Paul Savage, Department of Defense VPP Center of Excellence. “I looked at your rates and records the other day. Every year you are reducing by 10. You have 10 fewer accidents every single year. If this keeps up, you all won’t have any accidents out here. And that’s the whole name of the game.”
Savage continued discussing Red River’s accident rate which has decreased from nearly 100 accident in 2012 to 65 in 2014.
“Red River Army Depot is already a star among stars,” he said. “You are 51% on the total case incident rate and 75% below on your dart rate. I’m fully confident that Red River will be a star of excellence.”
RRAD joins 54 Department of Defense organizations who have reached VPP Star Status including four Army Materiel Command installations: Crane Army Ammunition Activity, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Letterkenny Army Depot and Tobyhanna Army Depot. Locally, Red River is the second company to achieve Star Status following the West Fraser New Boston Lumber Mill.
“Today, I had the chance to see firsthand real folks, who do real work that really matters,” said Lynn Linton, Director for Personnel Risk Production, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “The folks in the Pentagon know what has been accomplished here. They see your safety record and how you enable the Warfighter. What’s going on here sends a big message and that message is that Red River gets it; they understand that taking care of the men and women who come to work for the depot is a priority.”
Red River’s VPP journey began in 2007 when the depot began to develop and implement systems to effectively identify, evaluate, prevent and control occupational hazards to prevent employee injuries.
In 2012, Red River reached its first safety excellence milestone achieving VPP Merit Status. RRAD joins 2,400 other VPP Star sites in the nation.