There’s nothing up in the air about Tri-State’s flight operations personnel’s commitment to safety. That commitment was proudly put on display on Dec. 13 at the association’s aircraft hangar at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, Colo., where a group of Tri-State senior management staff, safety personnel and other guests acknowledged the hard work of Tri-State’s flight operations employees in earning a five-year Star Site recertification in the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).
VPP is a cooperative initiative between OSHA and businesses and industries to promote effective worksite-based safety and health management systems. Approval into VPP is OSHA’s official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.
“Star Site” status, which Tri-State has earned at two of its worksites (flight operations and Escalante Station), is the highest level of recognition in VPP.
The association’s flight operations first earned Star Site status in VPP in 2010, for a three-year term. An OSHA follow-up audit of the airport site took place earlier this year and as a result of receiving a clean audit, Tri-State’s flight operations have been recertified as a VPP Star Site through 2018.
“From the time that Tri-State’s flight department was first established in 1992, with just one plane and four pilots, we have always put safety first,” said Gary Sumner, Tri-State’s chief pilot. “But, as the department expanded over the years, it became clear we needed to adopt a safety management system that provided a clear, well-defined roadmap of goals that we wanted to accomplish in making our operation as safe and efficient as possible.”
Tri-State’s flight group began the meticulous and lengthy process of pursuing VPP certification in 2008. Sumner explained that there are essentially four key components to OSHA’s program.
“It began with the buy-in endorsement of our staff in which we all accepted the challenge,” Sumner said. “Next, we conduct a risk/hazard analysis of our operations and procedures, followed by an audit of our work area and most importantly, we provide our staff with the necessary training to make sure that we are staying safe on the job,” he explained.
Brad Baptiste, OSHA’s Region 8 director of the VPP program, presented the flight staff with a plaque and VPP flag at the ceremony.
In his presentation, Baptiste remarked, “Tri-State flight operations have achieved a level of safety culture that very few organizations have reached. Just looking around this hanger you can see the dedication and sincerity and pride that these employees carry with them in their day-to-day duties.”