By Marshall Fukuki, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility Public Affairs
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) gave final approval May 31 for Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to participate as a "Star" in its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).
Star status is the highest rating attainable under the OSHA-run programs and recognizes organizations for excellence in health and safety in the workplace. The rate of employee injuries and illnesses at VPP sites are typically less than half the average of their respective industries.
The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is the only DoD organization to currently rate Star distinction within OSHA's Region IX, which encompasses California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa. OSHA's approval makes Pearl Harbor the fourth naval shipyard and the sixth DoD Star site in the nation.
The shipyard received the good news in a letter dated May 31 from Edwin Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor and head of OSHA.
"Please accept my hearty congratulations on this noteworthy achievement," wrote Foulke. "You have joined an elite group of facilities that provide exemplary safety and health protection."
Capt. Frank Camelio, commander of the naval shipyard, said he was proud of everyone involved to earn the award.
In April, a 10-person OSHA team conducted a weeklong review of the shipyard's safety and health practices. On the final day of the visit, David Caswell, OSHA's Region I VPP manager and on-site evaluation team leader, announced the recommendation for a Star.
Caswell commended the shipyard for several best practices, among them cleanliness of shops and dry docks, bicycle safety, shop safety and health bulletins and newsletters and the VPP Passport (an incentive program for individual employees).
The team's recommendation was contingent on the shipyard taking three corrective actions within 90 days. According to Shipyard Safety Branch Manager Lyrita Gochenouer, all three items were completed within the following two weeks.
Gochenouer said the shipyard began striving for VPP recognition in 2004 and added that many employees participated in the journey to reach Star status.