Newport News Shipbuilding withdraws from OSHA Voluntary Protection Program

Posted at 1:51 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 13:51:00-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News Shipbuilding is withdrawing from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program, according to a release by Jennifer Boykin, the shipyard's president.

According to Boykin, the decision was made to help the shipyard reestablish its safety culture and program after a fatality last summer.

Newport News Shipbuilding was certified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star worksite for the past 25 years. According to Boykin, star status is the highest seal of approval OSHA gives to a worksite in recognition of its safety programs and practices.

Boykin said the shipyard will reapply to VPP in 2021, and in the meantime will actively work to improve its safety culture with a focus on management commitment and employee involvement, hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis and health and safety training.

The shipyard will take the following steps to prepare for reapplication:

• Establish an executive sponsor to support its reapplication efforts.
• Introduce new technologies that will enhance employee involvement, hazard prevention and training.
• Continue its EH&S Task Teams, which have proven to be a vital part of its safety program.
• Expanding the mailbox beyond suggestions related to COVID-19, so that Boykin can hear additional suggestions from employees about overall safety.

"This is a very hard and disappointing decision to make, but I believe it is the right one," Boykin said. "Throughout our many years of VPP participation in this program, we have experienced collaborative, positive relationships with administrators and the local OSHA office. We are committed to continuing this relationship as we work to reestablish a VPP-worthy health and safety program."