Truax adds 'Star' to 'Legacy of Excellence'

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
  • 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
After a week-long inspection, the 115th Fighter Wing has been recommended to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a Star rating in the Voluntary Protection Program. 

The four-member OSHA inspection team, toured Truax Field May 4 through 8 evaluating numerous plans, processes and procedures that regulate the wing's safety, health and hazardous material programs. 

Although the phrase "one in a million" doesn't exactly fit, the Wing is one of only 2,200 organizations in the United States, (which encompasses more than 7 million employers) to participate in the program. 

"We were very impressed with a lot of what you do," said Leslie Potack, lead inspector from OSHA's Madison office. "As a result of the on-site evaluation, we're going to recommend that the wing be participating in the VPP program at the Star level." 

The 115th will become only the third Air Force installation to earn the Star rating. This example of going "above and beyond" demonstrates the Fighter Wing's devotion to maintaining a "Legacy of Excellence," said Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Egstad, 115th Fighter Wing Safety Office. 

The inspection team said in the out-brief, they saw excellence almost everywhere they visited and the enthusiasm and safety culture was evident with every member of the Truax team they talked to. 

"You don't get VPP unless you have strong management. You have to be the kind of employer who is willing to be audited," said Potack. "So far there have only been 2,200 employers willing to do that ... so the wing really is special in that regard." 

The inspection team spent the week visiting many different shops and administrative offices and evaluated the wing on four primary categories: Management Commitment with Employee Involvement, Safety and Health Training, Hazard Prevention and Control, and Worksite Analysis. 

Military installations are governed by the same local, state and federal regulations as their civilian counterparts. Conversely, military installations who volunteer to participate in VPP are subject to the same inspection criteria of civilian organizations like British Petroleum (BP) and Lockheed Martin. Even with large organization like General Electric who are Star participants, the wing still had numerous "best practices." 

"The (Wing) has a very comprehensive training program along with rigorous implementation. It's never optional and we didn't see any 'falling through the cracks,'" Potack said. "We were impressed with the training." 

Nick Antonio, an Air Force veteran and safety specialist with OSHA was also impressed with Truax's safety program. 

"Safety is more alive today than it used to be; it used to be 'get the mission done first then worry about safety,' that's not the case today," said Antonio. "Everybody I talked to was highly motivated and understood their role in safety."
For months, the wing safety office, unit safety representatives, the installation safety comittee and the entire base has prepared to bring Traux to the next level and the hard work has paid off and the wing will soon boast a Star to prove it.