The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) presented its highest rating for worker safety programs to Naval Submarine Base (NSB) Kings Bay during an all hands presentation held at the southeast Georgia submarine base April 19.
Kings Bay received Star status -- the highest level a business entity can achieve in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). The strategic submarine base joins 1,600 other organizations in the United States who have achieved this status.
According to OSHA, Kings Bay is the first Navy operational base to achieve this milestone; Naval Sea Systems Command shipyards in Puget Sound and Norfolk previously had been recognized in 2006 for their programs.
OSHA area director for Savannah, John Deifer, stated the base is a model installation for others to follow.
"Kings Bay is one of a few select companies and federal agencies that have an exemplary health and safety program," said Deifer. “It can be done."
He added companies and agencies considering the program can look at what Kings Bay did and see the long-range benefits.
Rear Adm. Mark Boensel, Commander, Navy Region Southeast expressed his admiration in the teamwork displayed by the military and civilian workforce in achieving this milestone.
"This is an example of what can be done by people who are dedicated to doing good work, who care about being safe, and understand that safety is a part of overall readiness," said Boensel.
VPP promotes effective worksite-based safety and health by engaging management and employees, establishing worksite analysis, hazard prevention and comprehensive safety and health programs.
The rigorous four-day inspection conducted by OSHA officials last October included review of all safety records and programs at Kings Bay, followed by workplace inspections and employee interviews. A cross-section of areas inspected on the 16,000-acre coastal Georgia naval base included the indoor small arms range, base fire department, and various Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities.
According to NSB Kings Bay Commanding Officer Capt. Mike McKinnon, employee involvement was vital to creating a culture of safety at the base.
"My command philosophy is safety first and readiness always," he said. “Our overall goal is zero mishaps. It is an achievable goal, but it will take the effort of everyone.”
To retain the star status, Kings Bay must submit annual self-evaluations and undergo periodic onsite reevaluations to remain in the program.
“The hard part has begun,” said McKinnon.
OSHA established the Voluntary Protection Program in 1982 and has since recognized major companies with a demonstration, merit or star ratings for successfully implementing the safety program. Although VPP has been around for more than two decades, it is only recently that the Navy began exploring the merits of the program.
From Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Public Affairs