At McWane Ductile, a ductile iron pipe manufacturer with three foundries located in the United States, we are committed to providing a safe work environment for our employees. We strive to not only comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) standards but also to continuously improve and build a strong culture of safety in our facilities.
Click the red play arrow in the image below to watch a video about the McWane Ductile's VPP program.
What Is VPP?
The Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) is a program created by OHSA in 1979 to recognize organizations for their exceptional performance in the field of health and safety. The program consists of the labor, the management of the company, and the government working together to create a culture in the workplace that allows employees to be involved and make decisions in their own safety. There are five components to the VPP program:
- Management Commitment
- Employee Involvement
- Worksite Analysis
- Hazard Prevention and Control
- Health and Safety Training
With all these components, the idea is to point out potential problems and fix them before there is an issue. Being given the necessary resources and teaching hazard prevention techniques is vital to keeping those safe who are working in potentially dangerous situations.
What Are The Varying Levels of VPP?
There are different levels to the VPP program, Demonstration, Merit, and Star. The VPP Demonstration level is the very beginning of the VPP program that allows OHSA to test how effective safety practices are at a facility. The Merit program recognizes employers and employees who have achieved good safety and health management systems but must still take a step up to reach Star status. Star status is awarded to the best of the best.
This level of the VPP program is reserved for those who have developed safety programs that improve safety across the board, have increased employee participation, and have gone above and beyond the OHSA safety measures.
History of VPP at McWane Ductile
In 2009, members of the Union at the McWane Ductile Ohio facility visited a VPP site and felt the VPP program would be beneficial to McWane. They brought the idea back and presented it to the company. The company agreed and created a VPP coordinator position to handle the program and increase its effectiveness across the whole plant.
On August 19, 2010, the McWane Ductile Ohio Plant was recognized as a VPP Star Site. The McWane Ductile Ohio plant was the first facility to receive VPP Star status, with the Utah and New Jersey facilities following suit.
Why Does VPP Matter?
“For us,” Shain Ridenbaugh, McWane Ductile Ohio VPP Coordinator, says “It’s like a badge of honor. That status signifies to everybody out there that we are the best of the best.”
With being the best of the best, customers and contractors know that when they are using our product, that product was produced by a company who takes pride in the safety of their workers. OHSA has also asked McWane Ductile Ohio to mentor other organizations on how to improve safety and gain Star certification.
VPP Star status has also helped change the safety culture at other McWane Ductile facilities.
“Since the implementation of VPP we have created a safer work environment here at McWane Ductile Utah, The VPP program has enabled us to have a direct line of communication between management and employees. Through the promotion of the Voluntary Protection Program, we have established a camaraderie that is Iron Strong and will last for generations to come. “says Luis Jimenez, McWane Ductile Utah VPP Coordinator.
The safety culture that has been created allows all employees to have a voice in their safety. It becomes an employee-driven program that incorporates everyone from the bottom-up instead of being only compliant. At each facility, there are ideas put in place to give employees an additional line of communication to management about safety issues.
In the Ohio facility, there are Star teams as well as the green hazard tag recognition program. The Star teams are teams made up of members of different departments who go out into the plant and ask their peers about potential issues or processes that can be improved upon. The green hazard tag recognition program allows workers to place a bright green tag on an area or item that is a safety hazard. They fill out the top half of the tag and give the bottom half to their supervisor, who works to get it fixed.
In the Utah facility, each member of the Safety department does a weekly walkthrough of a department. The Safety department rotates departments every week and gives employees direct access to help voice concerns. MDU also holds events like Joint Safety Committee meetings and Continuous Improvement (CI) activities to help employees and management improve safety across the plant.
“Our ability to have a safe workplace takes the effort and commitment of everyone,” says Tom Crawford, VP/GM of McWane Ductile Ohio. “Management must be committed to providing resources to fix hazards, and continuously improve. Our employees are engaged in sharing safety concerns and working safely.”
At McWane Ductile, we are committed to the safety of our employees. Since the VPP program has been put in place, injuries have gone down. At the Ohio facility, recordable injuries have been reduced by 82 percent since 2009.
At McWane Ductile, we offer multiple services extending far beyond manufacturing Ductile iron pipe. From design to installation, we take great pride in providing education and assistance to water professionals throughout the water and wastewater industry. If you would like to learn more about becoming a VPP Star recognized site, feel free to contact us.
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