MAY 22, 2015 — Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) reports that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recertified the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division as a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star work site. The designation marks the shipyard's 20th year as a VPP site.
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees," said Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin. "This is a huge accomplishment and only possible because of our shipbuilders' commitment to Newport News Shipbuilding's health and safety programs. Enforcement of regulations alone can never fully achieve outstanding health and safety status. Our programs are designed to give our employees a voice, and this recognition demonstrates that we hear them loud and clear."
Last year was Newport News' safest in recorded history. Newport News' total accident case rate in 2014 was 28 percent below the current shipbuilding industry average, representing a 14 percent decrease since the company's last recertification in 2009.
To help achieve this, the shipyard developed several safety program enhancement initiatives. Executive leadership meets weekly to review recent workplace injuries, their root causes, and potential corrective and preventative actions. The shipyard's 1,000 Environmental, Health and Safety task team members participate in annual expos to showcase recent health and safety process and equipment innovations. Newport News also implemented use of a "STOP" badge that empowers all employees to step in and report unsafe work practices, to support one another as they stop such practices, and to act promptly when such practices are reported. New tools and equipment were also purchased last year to help prevent ergonomic injuries, and new safety training courses were developed for newly hired employees.
VPP Star status is the highest seal of approval OSHA gives to a worksite in recognition of its safety programs and practices. Star status comes with benefits, including a cooperative relationship with OSHA and input into OSHA's standard-setting process. OSHA inspects star sites every three to five years.