115th FW lands top safety award Published Dec. 6, 2009 By Airman 1st Class Ryan Roth 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Madison, Wis. -- The 115th Fighter Wing here demonstrated once again that they are an example of dedicated excellence to the community by receiving the coveted star rating Saturday for the Volunteer Protection Program given by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This is only the second Air National Guard unit and the third Air Force base in the country to receive a star rating in the VPP process. "You have done far more than develop a safety and health culture," said Kimberly Stille, the OSHA Area Director in Madison, as she awarded the VVP star rating. "You have fostered an environment and an attitude toward the value of safety and health." In order to become a VPP member, an organization must demonstrate outstanding occupational safety and health programs. Organizations must voluntarily exceed standards set by OSHA. "Without the strong value of safety we could not be the excellent organization that we are," said Col. Joseph Brandemuehl, the 115th FW commander. "It takes everyone. This award shows the wing is committed to safety from top to bottom." Organizations and businesses in the VPP have achieved injury and illness rates at or below the national average of their respective industries. These sites are self sufficient in their ability to control workplace hazards. The average VPP worksite has a lost workday incidence rate at least 50 percent below the average of it's industry. The commitment to safety is seen as a responsibility in the ANG. "The public is investing in us to have the combat capability to do our jobs," said Lt. Col. Doug Slocum, the director of safety for the ANG. "If people get hurt and equipment gets broken, we are not being good stewards of what the public is investing in us and the capacity to do our job is diminished. " Of the 7 million employers in the U.S., only 2,500 are in the VPP, said Leslie Ptak, the OSHA Compliance Assistance Specialist from Madison. VPP sites are well run facilities which is a credit to all the men and women of the 115th FW, she added. The knowledge gained in this experience is shared to help others in the community and in the AF with a goal of increasing their safety awareness and culture. "We have received calls from ANG and Army National Guard asking for direction and support in their safety programs," said Senior Master Sgt. Tom Egstad NCOIC of ground and weapons safety. Star participants are reevaluated by OSHA every three years. In addition, the 115th FW does an annual self assessment of safety. "The 115th FW is now the standard," said Colonel Slocum. "They have provided leadership throughout the ANG and set the bar high."