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VOL7/NO1/ WINTER 2 02 0


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National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention: Take the Pledge to Make Suicide Prevention a Health and Safety Priority By Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., Co-Chair, Workplace Suicide Prevention and Postvention Committee, American Association of Suicidology


VOL 7 | NO 1 | WINTER 2 0 2 0

You can read about Frank King (pictured below) on page 24.


Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing: Signs to Look for and When to Implement By Tarrah Martinez,

DISA Global Solutions, Inc.


Breaking the Stigma and Silence: Suicide in the Safety Industry By Frank King, The Mental Health Comedian

Building Behavioral Health in the Construction Industry By Lisa Desai & Bryan Kohl, MindWise Innovations


Five Ways to Improve Employee Mental Health By Anita Hawkins, Safety Pros


Suicide Prevention: The Next Step in Construction Safety By Greg Sizemore and

Michelle Walker, CIASP



A Message from the VPPPA Chairperson Global Safety and Health Watch From the Perspective of a First Responder

35 36 40 41 43 47

Infographic Corner VPPPA Best Practices Membership Corner State-Plan Monitor Regional Round-Ups Calendar of Events

A Message From the VPPPA Chairperson (6264). To support, VPPPA is offering additional copies of this Leader magazine for only $5 per issue and will donate 100 percent of these proceeds to NAMI. We will also match each purchase or charitable contribution made through VPPPA up to $5,000. Spread the word. Let’s do this! Together, anything is possible. In keeping with our number one strategic priority, demonstrating value, we are diligently working on an impactful 2020. Our VPPPA Body of Knowledge (BOK) mobile app is up and available in the various app store platforms. This is your resource. Please let us know how we can make it even better by identifying what we should keep,


delete, and include. elcome to the Winter issue of the award-winning Leader magazine. In this issue, we

are focused on mental health, a topic that affects all of us in one way or another. Mental illness is often a difficult subject to discuss. There is no single answer, no single approach, and no easy pathway to solve this complicated social and personal crisis. All we can do is allow compassion and the sense of urgency to guide us toward helping those in need. There are many stories of triumph where support, understanding and purpose have transformed lives. There

We are also steadfast in our resolve to deliver a different kind of learning experience at our Safety+ Symposium in Orlando. We are building on last year’s innovations, incorporating your suggestions, increasing our partnerships, and focusing on our educational content, all in a fun and engaging environment. Back at the National Office we are looking to upgrade our website and IT systems so we can better serve you. Innovation is at the forefront of all that we do. We are daring to think differently and working on a platform for our early career members to engage, be mentored, and have an input

are also many stories of consequential

into where we are headed. It is the voices

destruction where everything went terribly

of tomorrow that will make us greater

wrong. As you read each of our articles,

today. We are redefining what it means to

consider what can be done, how you can

partner with like-minded organizations

help a loved one or someone in need, and

and joining forces on common interests. We

how we can join hands to assist those who

are questioning what we do, why and how

need it most.

we do it. This approach introduces organic

I am inspired to announce that VPPPA is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to support finding

improvement opportunities in the provision of our services. As always, if you have any thoughts,

solutions to addressing mental health.

comments, questions or ideas, please reach

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots

out to me, our amazing National Office

mental health organization dedicated

Staff, the National Board of Directors or

to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI is an association of more than 600 local affiliates who work in communities to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available. Need help? Contact the NAMI Help Line at www.nami.org/helpline or 800-950-NAMI


Leader—Winter 2020


VPPPA National Board of Directors Chairperson J.A. Rodriguez, Jr., CSP, SGE, Raytheon Company, LLC Vice Chairperson Terry Schulte, NuStar Energy, LP Treasurer Chris Adolfson, Idaho National Laboratory Secretary Dan Lazorcak, CSP, Honeywell International Director from a Site With a Collective Bargaining Unit Jack Griffith, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company Director from a Site Without a Collective Bargaining Agent Johnathan “JD” Dyer, Shermco Industries Director from a DOE-VPP Site Stacy Thursby, Navarro—DOE Legacy Management Support Director from a VPP Contractor/ Construction Site Brad Gibson, S&B Engineers & Constructors Director-at-Large Kristyn Grow, CSP, CHMM, SGE Cintas Corporation Director-at-Large Sean D. Horne, Valero Energy Director-at-Large Alice Tatro, Acushnet Company—Ball Plant II Director-at-Large Shelly Ettel, PCAPP Director-at-Large Bill Linneweh, CSP, Hendrickson International Director-at-Large Andy Youpel, SGE, Brandenburg Industrial Service Company Editor Kerri Carpenter, VPPPA, Inc. Associate Editor Jamie Mitchell, VPPPA, Inc. EDITORIAL MISSION

The Leader (ISSN 1081-261X) is published quarterly for VPPPA members. The Leader delivers articles from members for members, safety and health best practices, developments in the field of occupational safety and health, association activities, educational and networking opportunities and the latest VPP approvals. Subscriptions are available for members as part of their membership benefits and at a 50 percent discount beyond the complimentary allotment. The nonmember subscription rate is $25 a year.

your Regional Board. Everything we do is

Ideas and opinions expressed within The Leader represent the independent views of the authors.

for you, our members. My absolute resolve

Postmaster >> Please send address changes to:

for the success of our association is best

VPPPA, Inc. • 7600 Leesburg Pike, East Building, Suite 100 • Falls Church, VA 22043-2004

expressed by Steve Jobs, “I want to put a ding in the universe.” We are truly transforming tomorrow together. —J.A. Rodriguez Jr., CSP, SGE

VPPPA, Inc., the premier global safety and health organization, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that promotes advances in worker safety and health excellence through best practices and cooperative efforts among workers, employers, the government and communities.


Global Safety and Health Watch

Finding Space to Breathe


s organizations

and meeting new people,

schedules, but that you welcome

become more

attending workshops, walking

attendees to bring their full,

cognizant and

throughout a large exhibit

authentic selves to events.”

empathetic to

hall—while also attempting

Many conferences are now

mental health concerns and

to balance your job and family

utilizing quiet rooms, adding a

employees’ stress levels, many

life back home—can be a tough

major benefit for attendees.

workplaces are taking steps

week. The VPPPA wanted to set

toward creating opportunities

aside some designated space

called Experient EnVision,

aimed at helping employees

for attendees to relax and

provided a Mindfulness Centre

find space to breathe. For the

unwind for a few minutes each

at their event. PCMA describes

2019 Safety+ Symposium, we

day (and we were thrilled that

it as “the first half of the room

installed a Relaxation Room for

the room was quite popular).

was a quiet room—including

our attendees that was dimly

According to the Professional

Another annual conference,

an intermediary area where

lit, outfitted with massage

Convention Management

attendees could ask questions

chairs, playing soft music and

Association (PCMA), “Allocating

about the meditations—which

even had infused waters and

quiet spaces or private rooms at

then flowed into the meditation

healthy snacks. We understand

events for meditation or prayer

space, where attendees could

that attending a conference

not only demonstrates that you

participate in 20- to 30-minute

can be hard work and

recognize the value of providing

guided meditation sessions.”

mentally taxing. Networking

breaks from hectic program

VPPPA’s Communications

“Allocating quiet spaces or private rooms at events for meditation or prayer not only

demonstrates that you recognize the value of providing breaks from hectic program schedules, but that you welcome attendees to bring their full, authentic selves to events.”


Leader—Winter 2020


By Jamie Mitchell Communications Coordinator, VPPPA, Inc.

Manager, Kerri Carpenter,

quiet room for meditation and

also attended Social Media

relaxation. Their ‘Wellbeing’

Marketing World in 2019, which

zone offers four sections for

featured “a quiet room, as well

connecting, snacking, stretching,

as a room to do short bursts

and resting.”

of stretching and yoga led by

In addition, according to

certified instructors. They also

MarketWatch.com, “companies

offered informal meetups in the

like Salesforce, Google, Yahoo,

morning for attendees to get

Nike, Pearson, and HBO have

together and go on 30-minute

all added designated official

walks. Not only did this give

meditation spaces in their

attendees an opportunity to

corporate offices. Google and

network, but it started the day

Yahoo employees now have

off with exercise.”

access to on-site meditation

These quiet rooms are an

spaces, and at Google they can

excellent idea during the hustle

take free meditation courses.

and bustle of an annual event,

HBO and Nike offer group

however, they are also the next

meditation workshops and

trend employees want in their

classes for their employees.

day-to-day workplace. In Jeff

When Salesforce opened its new

Pochepan’s article on Inc.com,

San Francisco office in 2016, it

he states: “Much of the reason

offered employees a meditation

offices cater to the comfort of

room on every floor—a move

employees lies in a mountain

that the CEO said at the time

of data showing tired, mentally

was ‘really important to

drained, and unhappy staff are

cultivating innovation.’”

not at their creative, productive

Interested in creating a quiet

Special Announcement

The Leader Magazine Charity Campaign


e are so excited to announce that the sales of this issue of the Leader magazine will raise money to support the mental health charity, National Alliance on Mental Illness

(NAMI). Charity Navigator gives this organization a fourstar rating (out of four) for financial and transparency reasons. The website offers free 24/7 support via text and phone. They also offer courses online to support your mental health and those around you, among other resources. They have a page of resources dedicated to veterans and active duty military individuals. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. They are dedicated to improving the lives of millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI strives to create a better tomorrow—a tomorrow where all people affected by mental illness can experience hope, recovery and wellness in a world free of stigma.

How will this work?

• This issue will be sold as a separate standalone issue for $5. • All profits generated from the individual sale of each copy of the Winter 2020 Leader will go to the National Alliance

best; are more likely to switch

room/relaxation room/wellness

jobs; and generally have a

center for your employees? First,

negative impact on company

find an empty room or space

culture.” Pochepan continues

that can be the dedicated area

with, “The idea is to unwind, get

for the project and be sure it is

away from the stresses of the job

free of work-related distractions

long enough that the brain resets,

(computers, televisions, printers,

and when the batteries are fully

phones). A few other nice touches

recharged, the employee emerges

could include dimmable lighting,

an individual would like to subscribe for the full year,

ready to tackle even the toughest

tranquil music, serene décor,

they can pay the standard $25 for the full year/

projects with renewed energy.

soothing aromas, bean bag chairs

four-issue subscription.

For example, Unilever offers a

and pillows.

SOURCES: www.inc.com/jeff-pochepan/recharge-rooms-are-next-trend-youremployees-need-in-office.html www.pcma.org/quiet-spaces-prayer-meditation-rooms-conferences/

on Mental Illness.

• This campaign does not draw donations from existing subscriptions to the Leader or complimentary issues provided to VPPPA members.

• VPPPA will match each copy donation, up to $5,000. • The special $5 rate for this issue does not require an

individual to subscribe for the full year of the Leader. If

Thank you for the support and for helping us give back to this great organization! A special shoutout to VPPPA’s Senior Event Advertising and Sales Coordinator, Heidi Hill, for thinking of this awesome idea and creating the proposal. You can download the subscription form on our website: vpppa.org/advancement/the-leader-magazine.


Leader—Winter 2020


From the Perspective of


The Ticking Time Bomb of PTSD


s first responders

Although it took 24 years for it

your responsibility as a manager

or emergency

to come out of hiding, when it

to ensure your team members

response team

did, it was something I never

have the available resources

members it has

saw coming until it was too

to help those in need. We will

been ingrained into us that

late. I thought I was immune

discuss options and ideas to

you do not show emotion or

and mentally tough, and that

implement, not just for those

weakness when it comes to a

PTSD only happened to the

who respond to emergencies,

horrific call. It is ground into

weak-minded. Afterall, I was

but for those individuals who

you from the beginning (at

a fireman. I ran into the chaos

witness events as well. With

least when I started nearly

when everyone else ran out.

that, let’s get started on what

three decades ago) that you

I was wrong.

exactly PTSD is.

will see some horrible things.

Luckily for me, I had an

Post-traumatic stress

I was told, “Suck it up. You

amazing cast of people who

disorder (PTSD) is a mental

signed up for this. If it bothers

supported me through my dark

health condition that’s

you that much, then maybe

times. From my incredible wife,

triggered by a terrifying event,

this isn’t the job for you.” For

a small group of trusted close

by either experiencing it or

the majority of my career,

friends and a therapist who

witnessing it. Symptoms may

which accounts for well over

specialized in treating first

include flashbacks, trouble

20,000 calls, I buried and

responders. The unfortunate

sleeping, anxiety, nightmares,

locked away the mental trauma

part is that my department

depression, uncontrollable

because that is what you are

only offered free professional

thoughts about the event, as

supposed to do. Now, I can tell

help through the city

well as other issues. Symptoms

you how incredibly wrong that

psychologist. Nobody trusted

usually appear within a few

advice was.

this psychologist because we

months of the event, but in

all knew he had the power to do

some cases, it may take years

able to compartmentalize and

the one thing first responders

for them to surface. This can

bury all of the horror I had seen

dread the most: take us off the

be from a single event, or for

while working the streets. When

truck, away from our station

first responders it tends to

it came to working on another

family and from helping people.

be cumulative events over

human being who was either

I was on my own to find the help

years and years of seeing or

dead, or had died while in my

I needed.

experiencing traumatic events.

For most of my career I was

care, it became normal for me


Leader—Winter 2020

Each person is unique in

to mentally remove myself

fortitude to acknowledge that

how they manage fear and

emotionally. Or so I thought.

I needed help, so I sought out

stress, so it can vary as to the

a therapist who understood

time and severity of potential

seeing mangled and burned

first responders and more

PTSD people may experience.

bodies, homicides, violence

importantly, one that I trusted.

In cases where PTSD develops,

and fatal car accidents, that my

Today I am healthy, happy and

the usual treatment involves

mind became numb to seeing

passionate about making sure

psychotherapy and, in some

it. What I didn’t realize was

other first responders get the

instances, medication combined

all of that cumulative mental

help they need.

with therapy. The good news

I became so accustomed to

Non-Profit charity supporting first responders: www.brotherhoodofheroes.org

Fortunately, I had the mental

trauma I was experiencing

How does this relate to

is that there are studies that

would eventually rear its ugly

you as a manager, or to your

suggest PTSD may be prevented

head and come back to bite me.

emergency response team? It is

with early intervention. vpppa.org

By Lee Vernon Code3 Medical Services

A single call or multiple calls can initiate a PTSD event.

Having a peer support group is key to the healing process.


punitive consequences. It is also

Open-Door Policy

continue to be lost by those

implemented after a traumatic

discussion remains confidential

policy when it comes to helping

and innocent lives are left to

A first and easy step that can be incident is talking about it. The key to this type of discussion is to ensure that it is neutral and open. This is not the time to finger point or play the blame game. It should include those who were involved in or witnessed the event, as well

imperative that this closed-door in order to ensure trust among those who have been affected. If word gets out about personal feelings, then you run the risk of losing trust with the peer support group.

Professional Resource

Lastly, have an open-door every employee. This is not just for management but should encompass everyone within the company. There will always be people in non-management positions that employees are going to feel more comfortable talking to about emotional

affected with severe PTSD, deal with those repercussions. In many cases we see people who don’t know what to do when PTSD begins to affect them, so they self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, selfdestructive behavior and in some cases, suicide. This has negative consequences for

Next, there should be a

issues. Those individuals need to

can bring a constructive and

professional alternative option

have a process to follow to share

independent perspective. It is

in place. After the initial peer

with management or human

even better if that third party has

support group discussion,

resources. If the only option

experienced a similar event, as

you may have individuals who

is management, then you will

they may understand and relate

need additional help with the

prevent many from seeking help.

in the worst-case scenarios,

to the emotions that the others

emotional process of dealing

That is just the cold hard reality

results in the death of an

are experiencing. This is where

with what they experienced.

in most cases. When it comes

employee. As a company,

having a small peer support

These individuals may want the

to addressing PTSD or mental

management or employee, we

group would be beneficial to

help immediately, or it could be

health, there must be significant

owe it to our co-workers and staff

expediting this process.

something that arises weeks or

care to ensure it is done right.

to address a silent, destructive

months later. Either way this

If management gives serious

illness that is a reality amongst

to happen as soon as possible,

is where having a professional

thought and genuine effort to

a profession where people are

and no later than 24 hours

therapist is crucial to assisting

setting up avenues for help, that

routinely hurt or killed. As safety

after the initial incident, while

those who need the additional

will help build confidence and

professionals, this is one area

feelings and details are fresh.

help. If your business or

trust within a company, which

that routinely gets ignored or

This short timeline also aids

company cannot afford such a

goes a long way.

forgotten. We can do better,

in the prevention of emotions

service, then at a minimum have

based off inaccurate or false

a list of qualified professionals

hard reality of PTSD. If this

the one who needs help. Don’t

details. Again, this is the time

that an employee can choose in

continues to be a subject that

think you are immune to PTSD—

to talk about what they saw

order to receive the emotional

is ignored and not addressed

because you are not. Take it from

and how they feel without any

and mental help they need.

properly, then lives will

me, I know firsthand.

as a neutral third party who

This initial discussion needs


I want to conclude with the

a company as many of those destructive behaviors affect employee morale, time away from work, increase liability, and

because one day you could be

Leader—Winter 2020


National Guidelines for


Take the Pledge to Make Suicide Prevention a Health and Safety Priority By Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., Co-Chair, Workplace Suicide Prevention and Postvention Committee, American Association of Suicidology

“The workplace is the last crucible of sustained human contact for many of the 30,000* people who kill themselves each year in the United States. A co-worker’s suicide has a deep, disturbing impact on work mates. For managers, such tragedies pose challenges no one covered in management school.” —Sue Shellenbarger (2001), Impact of Colleague’s Suicide Is Strongly Felt in Workplace, Wall Street Journal

*In 2017, 47,173 people died by suicide


Leader—Winter 2020


Why Suicide Prevention is a Health and Safety Priority

die” is not always considered

do not occur at a worksite,

miscategorized as unintentional

Because most suicide deaths suicide has not historically

been “on the radar” of safety professionals. When a workplace fatality happens, the cause is almost always determined to be “accidental” and a more thorough investigation is not undertaken. Since a deeper inspection is not done, the

when the death scene looks like an accident, many probable suicides are likely injury. Knowing that fall and motor vehicle fatalities are common ways people think about killing themselves, it would not be surprising to learn that a good number of workplace fatalities are indeed suicides and not accidents. People living with intense

The goal of the Guidelines is to increase workplace mental wellness and resiliency while reducing the incidence of potentially lethal consequences of toxic job strain and undertreated mental health concerns. Solution: National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention

workplaces become proactively

nation’s first Workplace Task

involved in suicide prevention in the workplace.2 The creation of the guidelines

only remedy suggested is more

suicidal thoughts and feelings

safety training. While safety

can also be unsafe to work

training will help those who did

in jobs that require quick

2019, the American Association

not intend self-harm, it will not

decisiveness to prevent

of Suicidology (AAS), American

benefit those whose death is

dangerous outcomes.

Foundation for Suicide

intentional. Suicide prevention

Overwhelming emotional

Prevention (AFSP), and United

efforts are needed.

pain can be highly distracting.

Suicide Survivors International

Understandably, despair and

(United Survivors), announced

a job site, the work is halted

agitation can interfere with

their collaboration and release

Now named the “Workplace

indefinitely as law enforcement

decision making and problem-

of the first ‘National Guidelines

Committee for Suicide

conducts an investigation,

solving ability. Often sleep

for Workplace Suicide

Prevention and Postvention,”

and traumatized workers are

disturbances are tied to suicide

Prevention.’ These Guidelines—

this cross-disciplinary team of

unable to function. Companies

intensity, causing fatigue

built by listening to the

national experts is housed under

that experience on-site suicide

during working hours. For

expertise of diverse groups like

the umbrella of the American

deaths can completely stop

these reasons, people who are

human resources, employment

Association of Suicidology.

operation for hours and even

experiencing suicidal despair

law, employee assistance

The purpose of this initiative

days, while the company

should be given support,

professionals, labor and safety

was to develop an interactive,

remains responsible for

necessary mental health

leaders, and many people who

accessible and effective tool to

continued payment for all

services and accommodations

had experienced a suicide crisis

help employers implement best

employees and deliverables

until they have stabilized and

while they were employed—are

practices to reduce suicides.

to clients. Because “intent to

can return to work safely.

designed to help employers and

Some of these best practices are

When a suicide occurs at

On World Mental Health Day

was prompted after the Force was formed in 2010 to determine what role workplaces might have in assisting in the implementation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

Table 1. Fatal Occupational Injuries by Major Event, 20171 Injury Type

Number of Fatal Injuries

Transportation incidents


Falls, slips, trips


Violence and other injuries by persons or animals


Contact with objects and equipment


Exposure to harmful substances or environments


Fires and explosions




Table 1. Fatal occupational injuries in the United States in 2017. More fatal work injuries resulted from transportation incidents than from any other event in 2017. Roadway incidents (N=1,299) alone accounted for about one out of every four fatal work injuries. 1


Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI)—Current and Revised Data. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2017. stats.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm#2017 Accessed April 8, 2019. www.WorkplaceSuicidePrevention.com.


Leader—Winter 2020


about supporting despairing or grieving employees and others are about fixing psychosocial hazards at work that can drive people to suicidal despair. The goal of the Guidelines is to increase workplace mental wellness and resiliency while reducing the incidence of potentially lethal consequences of toxic job strain and undertreated mental health concerns. The Guidelines help workplaces focus in a comprehensive and strategic way—going beyond a oneoff mental health training or awareness day and looking at “upstream, midstream, and downstream” tactics.

• Upstream: Build Protective Factors: to prevent the

problems from happening in the first place by promoting life skills, community, and mental health/suicide prevention literacy and reducing environmental psychosocial hazards.

• Midstream: Early and Effective intervention: to identify

problems early in the course of their development, course correct environmental hazards and connect people who are suffering to qualified supports efficiently.

• Downstream: Safe and

Compassionate Responses to the Aftermath of Mental Health and Suicide Crises: to follow best practice guidelines to reduce the impact of suicide, suicide attempts and other mental health crises while promoting dignity and empowerment for all impacted. The Guidelines go on to

recommend the following Nine Specific Practices:

UPSTREAM Leadership

Cultivate a Caring Culture Focused on Community Wellbeing: Create a healthy and caring community and foster


Leader—Winter 2020


genuine community support and a sense of belonging. Engage leadership around a mindset that mental health and suicide prevention are important pieces of the overall health and safety concerns of the community.

Assess and Address Job Strain and Toxic Work Contributors

Reduce certain environmental aspects of job strain, stress, trauma and life disruption that negatively impact employee vibrancy.

Communication Increase Awareness of

Understanding Suicide and Reduce Fear: “Bake in� messaging around suicide prevention, mental health promotion and resilience wherever health and safety messaging is happening. Share stories of recovery, resilience, making meaning and support to create a more powerful tale and humanize the issues.

MIDSTREAM Self-Care Orientation Self-Screening and Stress/

Crisis Inoculation Planning: Help people self-detect emerging suicidal thoughts or mental health concerns (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger and substance use issues) early in the development of these problems and link people to helpful resources and supports. Teach people to plan for crisis before they are in crisis.


Build a Stratified Suicide Prevention Response Program: Offer a tiered approach to training that builds skills and confidence at different levels of intensity. Develop specialized training by role for people in a position to offer advanced intervention. Provide ongoing training on skills like emotional regulation, conflict resolution, stress management, vpppa.org

Leader—Winter 2020


communication skills, financial

and support and a range of

planning, goal setting, etc.

evidence-informed treatment

Peer Support and WellBeing Ambassadors Informal and Formal Initiatives: Enroll peers, ombudsmen and ambassadors to increase awareness of and comfort with mental health and suicide prevention resources, improve positive co-worker assistance, and normalize help-seeking and help-giving behavior with an emphasis on least restrictive peer support, collaboration and empowerment.

DOWNSTREAM Mental Health and Crisis Resources

Evaluate and Promote: Provide

options. Promote these

Psychosocial Hazards and Harm Reduction

Toxic work demands along with

resources through multiple

negative employee perceptions

distribution channels

of the work environment

frequently over time.

have been historically

Mitigating Risk: Access to Lethal Means and Legal Issues When potential for suicide is

underappreciated in the conversation about suicide prevention; however, research connects a number of job

• Low job control—lack of decision-making power

and limited ability to try new things

• Lack of supervisor of

collegial support—poor working relationships

• Excessive job demands and

constant pressure/overtime

• Effort-reward imbalance—

stress-related factors to risk

related to perceived

high, remove access to guns,

of suicide death and attempts,

insufficient financial

pills, and other suicide means.

even when controlling for

Address workplace legal

mental health problems.

concerns with issues like ADA,

Researchers are clear, however,

FMLA, privacy, liability,

risk factors in the workplace

and others.

can contribute to many health

Crisis Response: Accommodation, Re-integration and Postvention

concerns—including suicide risk—previously considered unrelated to work. Many workplace well-being hazards and “job strain” put workers at

compensation, respect/ status

• Job insecurity—perceived

threat of job loss and anxiety about that threat

• Bullying, harassment and hazing at work

• Prejudice and discrimination at work

• Work-related trauma • Work-related sleep disruption • Toxic work-design elements

Follow crisis management

risk for suicide and significant

health services well-versed

procedures and longer-term

emotional distress. These

in state-of-the-art suicide

support in the aftermath of a

hazards include, but are not

aspects that cause pain

risk assessment, management

suicide or mental health crisis.

limited to:

or illness)

highly trustworthy mental


Leader—Winter 2020

(exposure to environmental


• Work culture of poor self-

as a society-determined

cost perspective and from a

care and maladaptive coping

method of suicide prevention

phenomenon in which the role

social responsibility perspective.

(e.g., alcohol and drug use)

may be to mitigate psychosocial

of work played a significant

Awareness has been slow to turn

hazards. In other words,

role. Durkheim argued that

to action because employers are

it’s not enough to connect

when working well, work

not sure where to begin, how

“troubled workers” to mental

fosters social relationships

much they need to do and when

(i.e., work demands make

health services, safety-

and offers people a place

they have satisfied their ability

family responsibilities

conscious workplaces must also

of purpose and solidarity.

in promoting and protecting

more difficult)

consider how best to reduce

According to Durkheim, the

employee well-being.

environmental harm.

place of employment sets a

• Lack of job autonomy • Lack of job variety • Work-family conflict

• Family-work conflict (i.e.,

family demands make work role challenging)

• Heightened job

dissatisfaction and the feeling of being “trapped”

• Work that was not meaningful or intrinsically rewarding

Of these, job security has been associated with higher odds of suicidal thinking and issues with job control appear to be more connected to a risk of suicide attempt and death. Prospective evidence also exists that workplace bullying, especially physical intimidation, can lead to suicide intensity. Thus, improvements in the psychosocial conditions of work may improve well-being and prevent suicide. Adapting

Thus, our most effective

Because suicidal thoughts

social structure, moral values

are usually invisible, employers

and a sense of identity for an

usually assume “it doesn’t

individual—all of which helps

happen here”—until it does.

While self-reliance is often

give the individual meaning

Co-workers then are often

valued as a sign of strength

and reasons for living. When

forgotten grievers after a

and mental stability, it is

social structures like work

suicide. Rarely, until now, did

paradoxically one of the

disintegrate, the individual

employers consider their role in

strongest predictors of poor

suffers, and sometimes suicide

suicide prevention. Workplaces

mental health and suicide

can be a consequence. When

have begun to shift their

risk; thus, industries that

workers are only seen as a

perspective on suicide from

value self-reliance are often

source of profit or an obstacle

“not our business” to a mindset

at heightened risk. Attitudes

to profit, suicidal despair may

that makes suicide prevention a

and beliefs like “I can solve my

result due to the disconnection

health and safety priority.

own problems” and “others do

people feel.

Specific Industries at Heightened Risk

not need to worry about me”

Over 150 years later,

Across the United States, workplaces are taking a closer

are often a major barrier to

employers across the

look at mental health promotion

seeking support from family,

United States are becoming

and suicide prevention 24/7.

increasingly aware of the need

No longer is it good enough to

for and benefit of addressing

get people from work to home

mental health promotion

safely, workplaces must also get

Over a century ago, Emile

and suicide prevention in the

their people from home back to

Durkheim considered suicide

workplace, both from a business

work safely.

peers or professionals.


NIOSH’s Hierarchy of Controls, workplaces striving to prevent suicide can eliminate threats to psychological safety (e.g., bullying, toxic management practices, etc.) and substitute these unsafe practices with those that promote mental health and protective factors (e.g., cultivating a sense of belonging, volunteering, etc.). Redesigning work culture for optimal well-being might include making access to quality mental health care (e.g., EAP services) easier, or changing the process of performance review to be more collaborative and mindful of how psychological distress impacts work abilities. At the

Call to Action: learn more and take the pledge at www.WorkplaceSuicidePrevention.com and follow on all social media platforms for latest updates. Sally Spencer-Thomas is a clinical psychologist, inspirational international keynote speaker, podcaster and an impact entrepreneur. Dr. Spencer-Thomas was moved to work in suicide prevention after her younger brother, a Denver entrepreneur, died of suicide after a difficult battle with bipolar condition. Known nationally and internationally as an innovator in social change, Spencer-Thomas has helped start up multiple large-scale, gap filling efforts in mental health including the awardwinning campaign Man Therapy (www.ManTherapy.org) and was the lead author on the National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention (www.WorkplaceSuicidePrevention.com)/ In her recent TEDx Talk she shares her goal to elevate the conversation to make mental health promotion and suicide prevention a health and safety priority in our schools, workplaces and communities. Connect with Sally at www.SallySpencerThomas.com and on Facebook (@DrSallySpeaks), Instagram/Twitter (@sspencerthomas) and LinkedIn and on her “Hope Illuminated” podcast wherever you listen to podcasts.

RESOURCES National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; 1-800-273-8255

bottom of the hierarchy we

Crisis Text Line; text TALK to 741 741

find training for psychological

Veterans Crisis Line; 1-800-273-8255, press 1

safety and encouraging individual practices of self-care

A Manager’s Guide to Suicide Postvention in the Workplace: 10 Action Steps for Dealing with the Aftermath of Suicide: suicidology.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Managers-Guidebook-To-Suicide-Postvention.pdf

and treatment.

National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention: workplacesuicideprevention.com/


Leader—Winter 2020



By Lisa Desai & Bryan Kohl, MindWise Innovations


Leader—Winter 2020


A national poll of United States employees found that 76

percent of workers struggled with at least one issue that

affected their mental health. Behavioral health problems,

including substance abuse, can harm employee performance and wellbeing in significant ways.


n the construction industry,

of construction workers have

the risks are far greater.

abused drugs or alcohol or

A recent study, published

prescription medications. Some

by the Centers for Disease

of the most abused prescription

Control and Prevention (CDC),

drugs include OxyContin,

found that 20 percent of all

Percocet, and Vicodin. The

men who died by suicide in

contribution of substance

the United States were in the

misuse to high-risk behavior is

construction or extraction industry. In its November 16 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC identified construction and extraction as the occupational group with the highest rate of male suicide among American workers. Mental health is an aspect of overall wellness and it is imperative that employers recognize the need for equal access to behavioral health information and access to resources. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report on the Opioid Crisis cited that absenteeism, presenteeism and excessive healthcare costs total $4.8 billion dollars. Those in construction are one of the highest risk groups for suicide risk and substance misuse. Why the increased risk? Studies cite that the short-term, transient nature


highlighted when we consider that opioid use is associated with a 40 to 60 percent increased likelihood of suicidal thoughts, and a 75 percent increased likelihood of suicide attempt.

Starting the Conversation

The CDC has recommended specific actions to decrease suicide risk, which include fostering social connections, facilitating access to appropriate mental health and substance misuse resources and providing postvention responses when possible. The first step, however, is talking more openly about the problem. Why is it so hard to talk about mental health issues? In some ways, we may speak more openly about alcohol abuse and substance misuse but less easily talk

of the job resulting in financial

about anxiety and depression.

instability and lack of workplace

Stigma, the fear of being

community, as well as the

judged and considered less

physically demanding nature

able, perpetuates the silence

of the job contribute to risk.

surrounding mental health

Specifically, workplace injuries

issues. Awareness campaigns

can result in use of prescribed

such as Stamp Out Stigma by the

medication which might be

Association for Behavioral Health

abused. More than 15 percent

and Wellness (ABHW) highlight

Impact by the numbers: Workers with opioid use disorders miss an extra

18.5 days

of work per year (three work weeks) compared to the general workforce. Workers in construction experience the highest rates of substance use disorders,

15.6 percent

of employees on average living with a substance use disorder. An estimated

$74 billion

is lost every year in reduced work productivity due to alcohol consumption, from absences, reduced output, premature retirement or death, or reduced earning potential. —National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Leader—Winter 2020


personal stories so that voices of

counted stress as a major issue

courage and survival are heard.

interfering with productivity.

as many others, can be used

In the construction industry,

The good news is that clinical

to check in with employees

conversations need to be initiated

interventions work: 80 percent

and oneself. Accessible via

and continued at a systemic level

of treated employees report

smartphones, the screening tools

to encourage change.

improvements (Bustle.com,

can be taken privately and easily.

Stereotypes perpetuate

2017). Early identification of

false information and myths,

behavioral health challenges

and can best be combatted

facilitates improved health

by accurate information. For

outcomes and reduced

example, research shows that

healthcare costs. Mental health

depression, anxiety, alcoholism,

and substance abuse screenings

and even eating disorders have

are an effective way to provide

contributing biochemical factors.

education about symptoms so

So, while many individuals

that individuals might identify

continue to think of mental

signs early and access care.

health struggles as personal

While hospitals provide health

weaknesses, biochemical and

screenings for cholesterol, blood

genetic factors, in concert

sugar and the like on a regular

with environmental stressors,

basis, the utility of mental

contribute significantly to

health screening has been less

behavioral health.

recognized. Healthcare systems

The incidence of mental health in the population is

conduct mental health screening

staggering. 50 percent of

as a way to address overall

Americans will experience a

health and refer individuals to

mental health issue during

specialized, intensive care when

their lifetime. Yet, less than half

needed. MindWise Innovations,

of Americans with diagnosed

a division of Riverside

mental health conditions

Community Care, a preeminent

received treatment (NAMI

behavioral healthcare provider

by the numbers). Barriers to

in Massachusetts, has long

seeking treatment include

recognized the need to provide

stigma and access to healthcare.

population-based behavioral

Consider also that health

health screening via a public

benefits are being underutilized

health model. The MindWise

by employees; for example, a

screening platform consists of

2014 Towers and Watson study

twelve validated, web-based

showed that only five percent

tools accessed privately on

of employees were using stress

any device and is completely

reducing services offered by

anonymous and confidential.

Employee Assistance Programs.

Individuals using the screening

Underutilization of mental

tools can identify signs and

health treatment can be related

symptoms of various behavioral

to stigma, lack of time, and

health problems and connect to

perceived or real barriers to

resources as identified by their

treatment options. Education

organization or community.

about the reality of the mental

Mental health and substance

health treatment process and the

misuse screening in the

short and long-term impact of

construction industry provide

effective intervention is needed.

the language to engage in

Behavioral Health Screening and Early Intervention A recent article in Human


Leader—Winter 2020

are now addressing the need to

conversations about mental health. For example: Are you feeling down? Are you having trouble sleeping?

These questions, as well

Data Matters

Gathering information about behavioral health trends can guide administrators in their decisions about behavioral health and wellness purchases. The investment in health and wellness materials can be best informed by employee population data. For example, the aggregate— nonidentifying—data from the MindWise screening program reflects utilization according to demographics selected by a given company. In this way, human resource professionals and those in relevant leadership positions can determine what information needs to be collected. Awareness campaigns and education about mental health and substance misuse needs to accompany behavioral health screening for full and comprehensive impact. Thinking about mental and emotional wellness as a health issue is central to opening the door to conversations which need to take place at various levels in construction and other industries. Leadership teams, managers and employees need to hear unified, consistent messaging which emphasizes a holistic view of health, inclusive of physical, cognitive and emotional well-being. Referring to work in the construction industry, MindWise Senior Vice President Bryan Kohl states, “For decades, we’ve been focused on what happens outside the hardhat. It’s time to pay attention to what’s happening inside the hardhat.” This can

Resource Executive stated

Are you feeling nervous all

and will be accomplished by

that 72 percent of employers

the time?

addressing mental wellbeing as vpppa.org

Lisa K. Desai, Psy.D. is the Director of Mental Health Screening and Research at MindWise. She leads the development of new screening tools and innovative programs with the goal of reaching underserved populations. In her role, Lisa regularly consults with MindWise partners. She has been a practicing, licensed psychologist for 25 years, providing behavioral health services to youth, adults, and families. Lisa is fluent in Gujarati.

a part of overall safety—both

the message was loud

physical and psychological

and clear: a call-out for

safety. Psychological safety is

communication, empathy

a concept first recognized by

and support in the workplace.

experts studying organizational

The active role of leadership

dynamics in the 1960s and

at all levels in construction

was revived in 1999 when

is paramount to creating a

behavioral scientist Amy

foundation which can support

Edmundson highlighted

behavioral health initiatives.

applications of psychological safety in the workplace. A psychologically safe

Managers and team members who contribute to a psychologically safe, trusting

environment is characterized

work environment give space

as trusting with open

for employees and workers

communication, respect, the

to speak openly, provide

ability to give and receive

constructive feedback and try

constructive criticism and

new skill-building challenges.

admit mistakes. In our work

Training and education to

at MindWise, we recently

better inform construction

conducted numerous focus

workers, regardless of

groups through all job

ethnicity and gender, is

categories in construction

crucial in decreasing suicide

and heard firsthand the

risk and substance misuse.

desire for a workplace that

Building a culture of resilience

fosters trust and genuine

and support through

relationships. Whether it is

behavioral health education,

bridging communication from

screening and access to

blue to white collar workers

resources is a sustainable

or knowing one’s boss cares

solution for those working at

about you as an employee,

all levels in construction.


Bryan Kohl is our Senior Vice President, leading MindWise Innovations. After more than 20 years in companies like Tiffany and Co., Bose Corporation, and Dell Technologies he decided it was time to offer a non-profit the benefit of his experience in organizational development, educational technologies, and innovation. Bryan’s role is to ensure MindWise reaches as many people as possible across the globe by meeting the behavioral health needs of communities, organizations, and industries. MindWise Innovations is a not for profit organization that equips schools, workplaces, colleges, and communities with tools to help them address mental health issues, substance use, and suicide risk—enabling their members to live healthier lives. Powered by the behavioral health professionals at Riverside Community Care, our suite of products includes online tools and trainings that provide guidance to those struggling with depression, opioid and substance use, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, and more. We use technology to inform community members by providing access to tools that connect them with quality treatment options. Additionally, organizations can gain insight into the behavioral health trends affecting their communities. Through informing, identifying, and connecting individuals with quality resources, MindWise empowers organizations to promote the well-being their community members deserve— and ultimately saves lives.

SOURCES www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ wr/pdfs/mm6745-H.pdf www.assp.org/newsand-articles/2019/03/11/ suicide-in-the-constructionindustry-breaking-the-stigmaand-silence www.ehstoday.com/ construction/suicideconstruction-industrysilent-killer www.nami.org/learn-more/ mental-health-by-the-numbers www.addictioncenter.com/ addiction/addiction-and-suicide/ hbr.org/ideacast/2019/01/ creating-psychological-safetyin-the-workplace

"For decades, we’ve been focused on what happens outside the hardhat. It’s time to pay attention to what’s happening inside the hardhat." Leader—Winter 2020


To combat drug abuse in the workplace, employers have several ways to secure a safer working environment. A clear, concise, and comprehensive drug testing policy is critical, but employers also need to ensure their management is trained to identify drug and alcohol abuse on the job as soon as it begins.


SUSPI DRUG TESTING By Tarrah Martinez, DISA Global Solutions, Inc.


Leader—Winter 2020



PICION Signs to Look for and When to Implement


Leader—Winter 2020


they can pose a great risk for themselves, employers, as well as the employees around them. To determine if an employee has used drugs or is under the influence while at work, employers can implement the procedures associated with reasonable suspicion drug testing. Reasonable suspicion testing, or for cause drug testing, is performed when supervisors have evidence or reasonable cause to suspect an employee of drug use. When


building a company drug ccording to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Many

individuals who develop substance use disorders (SUD) are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa. Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.” Due to this link, it is imperative that companies work to prevent

When building a company drug testing policy, it’s vital that employers include reasonable suspicion testing so that employees fully understand the rules and so that employers know how to address such issues when they arise.


Leader—Winter 2020

substance abuse by their employees and assist them in getting the help they need. Reasonable suspicion drug testing is often included as part of a company’s comprehensive drug testing policy, allowing employers to drug test an employee based off of evidence of drug use, (e.g., signs, symptoms, and behaviors) under direct observation. This is an added level of protection that remains in effect long after the initial pre-employment screening to continue to deter employees from using in the first place.

testing policy, it’s vital that employers include reasonable suspicion testing so that employees fully understand the rules and so that employers know how to address such issues when they arise. A proper drug testing policy will ensure that certain supervisors or employees are trained to detect drug use in the workplace, as well as how to implement the steps to reasonable suspicion itself: observing the employee, how to confront the employee, properly documenting the incident, and implementing the drug testing procedures.

• Observe—Employers must decide which supervisors

or employees will receive reasonable suspicion training.

• Confront—Individuals should also be trained

on how to confront the employee in a professional and discrete manner.

• Document—Employers should prepare a way for supervisors to properly document the

When to Implement a Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test If an employee is suspected to be under the influence, then a trained supervisor or manager may observe the employee using the signs below to help them determine if a reasonable suspicion drug test should be administered. Any time an employer feels it is necessary to administer a reasonable suspicion drug test, all information should be documented to meet compliance standards. The following are valid reasons to conduct a reasonable suspicion test:

• Physical signs—Bloodshot eyes/dilated pupils,

slurred speech, unsteady walk, shakes or tremors, unexplained sweating or shivering, fidgeting/inability to sit still, sleeping at work or difficulty staying awake

• Behavioral signs—

Attendance problems/ tardiness, a pattern of absences or excessive absenteeism, a decline in performance/productivity, acting withdrawn from others

• Psychological signs—

Unexplained changes in personality or attitude, sudden mood changes, angry outbursts or inappropriate laughing, inability to focus or concentrate

What Can Employers Do? When creating and

incident to further prevent

implementing a comprehensive

litigation risks.

drug testing policy, employers

• Implement testing—

should include reasonable

Employers should have

suspicion testing to prevent

a clear and concise drug

drug abuse in the workplace.

testing policy that includes

This should be in addition to

reasonable suspicion

other methods of testing, such

testing and implementation

as pre-employment, random,

If an employee is under the

procedures if an employee is

post-accident, and Return-to-

influence while on the job,

required to do so.

Duty (RTD).

What is Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing?


“Employers have the opportunity to customize their company drug testing policy to ensure safe hires and prevent accidents from happening. An insufficient policy can compromise your company and employee’s safety, which is truly

Best Practices

drive themselves (especially a

your company can follow

your liability because you

Here are a few best practices when implementing reasonable suspicion drug testing in the workplace:

• Include and implement

not worth the risk.” —Frank Bernard VP of Compliance at DISA Global Solutions DISA offers reasonable

decrease absenteeism, accidents and turnover, while

company drug testing policy.

increasing company morale

testing according to the company policy.

• Ensure the right personnel at your company receives

along with other managerial staff

reasonable suspicion drug

are fully prepared to address drug When paired with other drug

testing training.

• Always document all signs

testing methodologies, proper

and symptoms leading up

documentation, and properly

to and during a reasonable

trained supervisors, reasonable suspicion drug testing will strengthen a company’s drug

suspicion drug test.

• If an employee is sent off-site

testing policy.


Creating an all-encompassing drug testing policy helps to

testing in a clear and concise

reasonable suspicion drug

working environment by

abuse and use in the workplace.

under the influence.

and productivity.

that they are subject to

companies maintain a safe

Employee Representative (DER),

already believe they may be

reasonable suspicion drug

• Notify all employees

suspicion training to help

ensuring that your Designated

company car). This increases

for a reasonable suspicion

drug test, do not allow them to

Tarrah Martinez is the Digital Marketing Content Strategist for DISA Global Solutions, an industry-leading drug testing company for over 30 years. DISA helps companies make more informed staffing decisions by offering a broad array of industryleading methodologies to make employee screening faster and more accurate. Tarrah has over seven years of professional writing experience and uses her expertise to educate readers on the drug testing industry and compliance with the DOT regulations.

Founded in 1987, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 30 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background screening, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace. Are you an employer and still have questions regarding employment screening? Get answers directly from DISA’s subject matter experts with ‘Ask DISA’. Visit www.askdisa.com to ask your questions today! For more information about how we can help you as a strategic compliance partner and an informed employer, call 1-800-752-6432 or email sales@disa.com.

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Program Details This certificate program is strategically aligned with the VPPPA’s mission to promote the VPP Program and support member organizations who have achieved, or are in the process of preparing for, admission to the VPP Program. The program will also equip students with the leadership skills needed to guide transformational change within the safety culture and enable them to lead from behind or to manage from the middle. Upon completion of this certificate program, students can expect to be fully prepared to manage through the VPP process, using the knowledge gained to achieve OSHA VPP Certification or Re-certification.

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uab.edu/asem | 205.975.3891 | asem@uab.edu


Leader—Winter 2020


SUICIDE IN THE SAFETY INDUSTRY By Frank King, The Mental Health Comedian


Leader—Winter 2020


A suicide occurs every 11 minutes in the United States. These incidents touch every industry. However, some

industries in particular have felt the impact of suicide in recent years—construction, extraction, mining, fishing,

bullying or harassment, and other workplace and environmental stressors.

Preventing Suicide

With all of this in mind, what can safety professionals, supervisors and employers do to help prevent suicide and

farming and forestry. A CDC study found that in 2012 and

get workers the resources and

these industries, which tend to be male-dominated.

addressing this issue is the

2015, suicide rates were highest among males, ages 45–64, in

assistance they need? A major roadblock to stigma that has surrounded the issues of depression and

The Perfect Storm of Risk Factors

hearty workers, but it also

suicide and the reluctance

increases risk for suicide in

to talk about it. For many

That perfect storm that Sally

that this occupational group

years, these have been

kind of perfect storm of all

spoke of involves several

is least likely to reach out

unmentionable subjects,

the risk factors that we know

factors that may contribute to

when there’s a problem,” says

making it all the more

such a high suicide rate among


difficult for those who may be

These maledominated industries are a

contribute to suicide risk,” says Sally Spencer-Thomas,

men. First, workers in these

lead of the Workplace Task Force within the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (you can read Sally's article on page 10). Sally Spencer-Thomas is a rock star in the world of suicide prevention in the workplace, my mental health mentor, good friend and a co-author with me and Sarah

Furthermore, the often-

contemplating suicide to get

high at-risk industries, in the

transient nature of the highest

the help they need. After all,

U.S. are predominantly white,

at-risk workforces can create

big boys don’t cry, much less

middle-aged males, who have

an environment in which

share their feelings.

the highest rate of suicide

workers are not as connected

among the general population.

to a workplace community.

ways to do this is to simply talk

One of the most effective

Having a consistent workplace

to workers about what is going

demographic data, elements

can increase the sense of

on in their lives so that they feel

within these industries can

belonging and provide

they have an outlet to discuss

play a role in workers not

consistency in pay and access

issues they are experiencing.

talking about issues that can

to healthcare.

In addition to this

lead to suicide or not seek help

Sally Spencer-Thomas

“There’s an enormous taboo around this topic that

emphasizes that when

is extremely unhelpful,” says

discussing suicide with your

Norman Ritchie, director, VPSI

stoicism and self-reliance

workforce, it’s important to

Group LLC. “The only way to

in the construction industry

look beyond mental health

break through that is to talk about

Mechanical Manual.” (Go to

and the mining or extraction

to other factors that can

it with your workforce and make


industry for example, certainly

contribute to suicide, including

it the subject of safety meetings

for details.)

makes for courageous and

job strain, sleep disruption,

and company communications.”

W. Gaer in the book on men’s mental health, “Guts, Grit and the Grind, a Men’s Mental


if they need it. “The culture of risk-taking,

Leader—Winter 2020


emphasizes that it is important

who may be at risk for

contractors, supervisors,

Ritchie encourages

for leadership to set the tone

suicide and how to start

workers and safety professionals

around this issue by making

to remember that everyone

suicide prevention a health and

on their workforce is a human

safety priority.

being with their own issues and

“We don’t know that this

difficulties, and to do everything

is happening with a person

they can to connect with them

unless we have conversations

on a personal level.

about it. There’s no X-ray,

“You have to look at the humanity of the workforce,” he says. “By starting a conversation and being aware of those types of things, if there are people who are in a difficult situation, it provides an opportunity to bring that to the surface.” Along with the danger that workers may pose to themselves, Ritchie emphasizes that unless these issues are discussed, these situations can present hazards in the workplace as well. “The worse you’re doing personally, the more risk you present to yourself, your colleagues and to the work,” he says. There’s a concept called presenteeism, meaning that the person is physically present at work, but mentally absent, which often makes them a risk to themselves, and given the particular work environment, a risk to coworkers as well. Spencer-Thomas echoes the need for better communication about this issue and creating an environment where workers are comfortable discussing personal difficulties and are provided a supportive network that will guide them to the resources they need. She

there’s no diagnostic test, no check engine light (wouldn’t that be convenient) that tells us, the only way in is through conversation,” she says. “For workers to feel they can open up about it, we have to have a certain level of trust.” Developing that trust is one area where Spencer-Thomas sees the potential for safety professionals to have a big impact. The environments where she has seen safety cultures thrive are those in which workers are actively looking out for each other’s safety and well-being. Like a scuba diving partner or a battle buddy, you watch each other’s back, and in this case brain as well. By applying that same mentality into psychological safety and well-being, safety


Leader—Winter 2020

Difficult as it may be, it’s important to be direct about the topic of suicide and to approach it in a way that is compassionate and empowering, to let the person know that someone is there for them to provide partnership and support throughout their struggle. 3. Direct them to qualified resources. Once you’ve started the conversation and brought underlying issues to the surface, the important next step is to put the person in touch with the appropriate resources. Organizations such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Construction Working Minds and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provide tools and treatment resources for those in need of assistance. For those organizations with employee assistance

professionals can help create

programs, Spencer-Thomas

a culture in which workers

emphasizes the need for

are comfortable starting

employers to ensure that

conversations with each other

suicide prevention resources

about the personal issues they

are accessible, and personnel

are facing.

are trained in state-of-the-

When having a conversation with a colleague about personal difficulties, keep these three keys in mind to work toward a positive result. 1. Listen. Be a good listener for your colleagues. Often, all a co-worker may need

“We don’t know that this is happening with a person unless we have conversations about it. There’s no X-ray, there’s no diagnostic test, no check engine light (wouldn’t that be convenient) that tells us, the only way in is through conversation.”

a conversation. 2. Ask direct questions.

is for someone to listen and understand what they are going through. During the process of talking through the problems they

art suicide intervention skills. According to Suicide Awareness Voices for Education, 80 to 90 percent of those who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully through therapy and/or medication. By taking these steps and being proactive in the way they approach issues like depression and suicide, employers, workers

are facing, people may be

and safety professionals can

able to find a solution. The

help stem the tide of suicide in

QPR Institute, safeTalk

the construction, extraction,

and Construction Working

mining, fishing, farming,

Minds offer guidance on

forestry, and other industries,

training personnel on

while providing individuals the

what to look for in someone

assistance they need. vpppa.org

Mental Protective Equipment

Finally, a word about the active shooter drill. It’s not prevention, it’s mitigation. The active shooter drill training is a good idea, and given the current climate of gun violence, particularly in the United States, where there is one mass shooting a day, every day, I believe that every company of any size should provide the training. (A mass shooting is identified as one shooter and at least four victims.) However, as we say in the mental health business, it’s a downstream solution. The purpose of the active shooter drill is simply to keep the body count as low as possible. By the time you are having to employ the skills you learned in an active shooter drill, the horse has left the barn, the train has left the station, that ship has sailed, pick your metaphor. It’s too late. As safety professionals we are all about prevention. What if we applied that prevention to mental health just as we do for physical health? Currently, we’re all about personal protective equipment, (PPE) for our physical wellbeing. There is no end to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection. The hazards addressed by protective equipment of course include physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards and airborne particulate matter. What if we had a similar push on Mental Protective Equipment (MPE)? What if in addition to the active shooter training, we go, as we say in the mental health business, way upstream, and bring me (www.thementalhealthcomedian. com) or another Suicide Prevention as a Workplace Health and Safety Issue Speaker and Trainer, in to teach all of the managers, supervisors, union stewards, human resources professionals and other stakeholders on how to spot the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide? We already teach them to spot the signs of alcoholism and drug abuse. And we taught them all what to say, and what not to say, what to do, and what not to do. In QPR (www.QPRinstitute.com,) which is the curriculum I offer as a keynote or a one to three-hour training, it’s called Gatekeeper Training. Everyone is charged with being a Gatekeeper, someone who watches the comings and goings of everyone in the workplace, knows what to look for and what to listen for, when someone is struggling. And what if, after they, as Gatekeepers, identify a worker who is struggling, they took it one step farther, and sought to find out if the depression and thoughts of suicide, are being generated by someone else in the workplace. And what if, as a midstream solution, management brought in a conflict resolution speaker and trainer, who schooled all the managers, supervisors, union stewards, and human resources professionals, and other stakeholders on peacefully resolving a conflict? In other words, as Barney Fife used to say, “Nip, nip, nip it in the bud.” Is it possible that if we started upstream with Suicide Prevention Training, and in midstream, followed up with training in Conflict Resolution, such problems might never progress to downstream, and workplace violence? To paraphrase the old saying, “perhaps an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of mediation.” And after all, prevention, not mitigation, is our business.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: On a personal note, part of

the proceeds from the sale

of each copy of this edition will go to a wonderful

mental health nonprofit

called the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI),

that is near and dear to my

heart. They provide all sorts

of mental health resources, peer counseling, familyto-family counseling

and classes for families struggling to deal with

a loved one with mental

illness, among others. All that they do, they do for free. I was introduced

to them by a friend who is a State Farm agent, who heard me speak

about mental illness, and my struggles. As often

happens, after I shared my story, he had one

for me—even though I’d

known him for six years, I

was not aware about. He told me his son lives with

schizophrenia, that he and his wife were struggling to

Frank King, Suicide Prevention and Postvention (the period immediately following a suicide) Speaker and Trainer, was a writer for The Tonight Show for 20 years. Depression and suicide run his family. He’s thought about killing himself more times than he can count. He’s fought a lifetime battle with Major Depressive Disorder and Chronic Suicidality, turning that long dark journey of the soul into five TEDx Talks and sharing his lifesaving insights on Mental Health Awareness with associations, corporations and colleges. He uses his life lessons to start the conversation giving people permission to give voice to their feelings and experiences surrounding depression and suicide. And doing it by coming out, as it were, and standing in his truth, and doing it with humor. He believes that where there is humor there is hope, where there is laughter there is life, nobody dies laughing. The right person, at the right time, with the right information, can save a life.

they could, that they had


end of their rope, and it

*Risk-Taking Behavior: The Role Emotions Play

the end of their marriage

*Peer-to-Peer Safety Feedback: Engaging in Effective Safety Conversations

help their son in any way just about reached the

appeared that it might be and their family, as they had known it. Then they

heard about a 12-week, one

night per week class for the family of a schizophrenic at NAMI. They took the

classes, and though their son still struggles, as do they, he believes those classes saved his son,

marriage, and their family. He encouraged me to

volunteer, which I do at

the county and state level in Oregon where we live. Please buy a copy. You

*Emotional Intelligence: Assessing Its Importance in Safety Leadership *Safety & Job Burnout: Understanding Complex Contributing Factors www.opm.gov/policy-dataoversight/worklife/employeeassistance-programs/ suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ www.samhsa.gov/ www.constructionworking minds.org/ www.livingworks.net/safetalk

might just help save a


perhaps a life.

*These resources are available as PDFs online. Search for the titles in your preferred search engine.

marriage, a family, and

Leader—Winter 2020



Leader—Winter 2020


Ways to Improve Employee Mental Health By Anita Hawkins, Safety Pros

Mental health is a difficult topic to address in the workplace. Pretending that mental health concerns are not something affecting your workplace could end up costing you money. Studies show that when left untreated, mental health issues cause people to miss 5 percent more days from work. Considering mental health issues affect one in four people, according to the World Health Organization, this is probably affecting your office—whether you know it or not.


hat’s why it’s so important to make sure that your work environment is one that’s open and understanding of mental health needs. Right now, your employees could be dealing with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues in the workplace, and it could be affecting their work.

For the most part, your employees will have a disorder and not disclose their

diagnosis but still maintain positive behavior and high level of productivity. But there are those instances where an employee may show signs of mental illness that are disruptive and counterproductive. In these situations, it is important for employers to consider the health and safety of all their employees. So how can employers make their office a safer and healthier place? Here are a few suggestions.


Leader—Winter 2020


Employers should consider providing health care plans that include mental health services, such as counseling or therapy. You can also partner with local businesses to create an employee discount plan. Speak to businesses, such as fitness gyms, counseling centers, and massage therapists, to create a program that allows employees access to these services at a reduced cost.


Inform Employees of Time-Off Policies and Lead by Example Your employees are working

long, hard hours. Many of them task their bodies physically throughout the day to complete their jobs. It can be draining on the mind and body to work day


Break the Silence

Your employees may be hesitant to discuss their mental health concerns. As an employer, you can help break the stigma of mental health in the workplace by creating a welcoming and supportive space for your employees. They shouldn’t be afraid of repercussions if they speak up about their concerns for their own or someone else’s mental health. Work with your

your employees about their mental health. While hosting whole company events to educate employees and open communication about concerns helps create a supportive atmosphere, it is inappropriate to single out employees or force people to discuss their private health concerns. That’s where an Employee Assistance Professional (EAP) comes in. As licensed mental health counselors and trained

employer, encourage workers to take time off from work and not work longer hours than necessary. If you’re noticing that an employee is regularly overworking themselves, it’s time to check in to see how they’re handling their workload and if there are ways that you can help. Keep in mind that employees often look to their bosses to set the tone when it comes to taking time off and being

supervisors about mental

accessible when away from

health within the company; or

health and how to handle

the job site. If you are always

host a seminar that provides

sensitive employee issues.

calling to check on job progress

employees with education

Proper training and research

or coming to work when you

on how to manage mental

are essential to addressing

aren’t well, your employees will

health. Employees will see your

mental health in the workplace

feel they have to do the same

dedication to improving mental

and fostering a positive and

thing. Be transparent about the

health in the workplace and

supportive community.

company’s time-off policies

host a discussion about mental

and allow employees the time

begin to help build a culture of openness and education around mental health topics.


Leader—Winter 2020

It is crucial that you, as an

professionals, they can teach

human resources department to


in and day out without a break.

Get Training


Offer Resources

The best thing an employer can do to accommodate mental

they need to recharge and relax.


Follow Up

health is to offer a range

Managing employee health

As someone’s supervisor,

of resources for employees

and safety is already an

it can be difficult, or even

to utilize should they have

essential part of your day-

inappropriate, to speak with

questions or concerns.

to-day activities at work. Be vpppa.org

If you’re worried about an employee who appears to be struggling, it’s crucial to set up a meeting to identify possible issues and find ways to better the situation.

sure you are maintaining open

out to your human resources

to educate, communicate, and

surveys at times they are most

lines of communication by

department to get connected to

reward employees for observing

comfortable. Having these

regularly following up with your

other resources.

safe practices.

features in a safety engagement

employees. One way to do this

The health and safety of

Setting up a safety

is to poll your employees about

your employees rely heavily on

engagement program is not

whether they’d be interested in

their mental health. Employees

difficult. The Safety Pros

regular check-ins, and to ask

need to be alert and focused

specializes in developing safety

how often they’d like them;

to perform many of their jobs

engagement programs for

one employee may welcome a

safely. While you may never

businesses in any industry. Since

weekly meeting while another

know which of your employees

each workplace is different,

may find it to be too much and

is experiencing a mental health

programs are tailored with

too overwhelming.

issue, it is essential to do what

features that meet the specific

you can to help prevent burnout

safety needs of each company.

employees who seem to dip

and incidents related to mental

A safety engagement program

in productivity or are losing

health concerns. Of course,

offers a hands on experience

focus performing job tasks. Be

not everyone is going to want

for both company leaders

wary that their behavior could

to open up about their mental

and employees. Interactive

be a sign that they are dealing

health with their boss. Make

programs encourage employees

Be sure to watch for

with burnout or mental health issues. An employee who is not fully focusing on their job tasks could inadvertently cause harm to themselves or someone else. If you’re worried about an employee who appears to be struggling, it’s crucial to

sure that your employees don’t feel obligated to open up, but that they also know there are resources available to them if they need them.

Use Your Engagement Platform

to participate in safety training, forum discussions, and even test their knowledge with safety quizzes. For participating, employees receive points that are banked and later cashed in for incentives and awards. Programs are cloud-based

Make communicating

and mobile responsive, so

set up a meeting to identify

important health and safety

employees can log in and

possible issues and find ways to

messages simple with a safety

participate from jobsites,

better the situation. Consider

engagement program. Work

home, or anywhere. Employees

changing their workload,

with a company that specializes

can respond to discussions

allowing them to work from

in creating custom safety

on mental health through

home, or helping them to reach

programs that allow employers

forums, social posts, and


program helps to lift the stigma about mental health and encourages open discussion that helps people find the help and resources they need to care for their own mental and emotional health. Employees who are part of a safety engagement program report being happier, more proactive in safety, and are excited to receive rewards for being part of the program. Anita is the Digital Marketing Specialist and Blogger for

Safety Pros located in Tampa, FL. Under the direction of company owner, Michele Adams, Safety

Pros develops comprehensive

online safety incentive programs for companies of all sizes. As

part of the Safety Pros team,

Anita educates clients on the

importance of safety while also

helping them discover effective safety recognition solutions for their workplace. As members of VPPPA for 30 years, Safety

Pros has established a strong reputation as experts in the safety incentive industry.

Leader—Winter 2020


SUICIDE PREVENTION The Next Step in Construction Safety 32

Leader—Winter 2020


By Greg Sizemore and Michelle Walker, CIASP

In today’s construction industry, the safety and wellbeing of our

workers is our priority. We know it is our responsibility to make sure our employees go home in the same—or better—condition than when they arrived on the jobsite in the morning. Delivering on that commitment

has been part of a larger cultural shift over the last 25 years and, while we’ve seen progress, even one fatality is one too many.


focus on physical health

according to the U.S. Department

and safety—from

of Veterans Affairs.

the use of personal

The U.S. workforce spends

that safety of all kinds is better

protective equipment to safety

many hours at the workplace

baked in, rather than bolted on.

education and planning, as

each week, making it a vital

There are many touchpoints

well as identifying new safety

touchpoint for providing access

where we can incorporate

technologies—has naturally

to mental health resources for

suicide prevention measures.

been at the forefront as

working-age adults. In fact,

Importantly, we need strong

the Surgeon General’s 2012

leadership from management,

National Strategy for Suicide

safety professionals and human

Prevention specifically targets

resources to acknowledge that

employers prevention of

this devastating statistic about

suicide. Across the construction

our industry is a public health

sector, we must rise to meet

crisis. And that it is up to us to

this challenge by incorporating

identify and assess our weak

mental health and wellness as

points, and then get to work.

construction companies work to assess, address and implement jobsite improvements. And while these are essential to world-class safety performance, we need to expand that focus to address mental health and the risk of suicide. As leaders in our field, it’s not just our job to make sure our workers get home safe, it’s also our job to ensure they safely return the following morning. Statistically, construction employees are at a higher risk because men, who make up

core business values. While there is much about

To start, we need to focus on access by instituting

the nature of the construction

comprehensive mental health

sector that we can’t change—

and suicide prevention polices,

like night work, traveling to

including employee assistance

jobsites away from loved ones

and treatment programs and

and strenuous physical labor—

crisis intervention education.

there are many things we can

We can also assess our

change. We can build protective

business practices to see what

factors around stressors to

practical steps we can take

help minimize impact. We can

to reduce overall suicide risk

to die by suicide. In addition,

educate teammates to recognize

factors, like putting together

the industry employs a large

signs of mental distress. We can

crews that consistently work

population of veterans, who are

fund mental health benefits.

together. This allows workers to

at a 1.5 times greater risk for

We can view asking for help as

develop relationships with their

suicide compared to nonveterans,

brave, instead of shameful.

colleagues (especially when

91 percent of the construction workforce, are more likely


As an industry, we know from years of managing jobsite safety

Leader—Winter 2020


ABOUT CIASP The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention was born out of necessity in response to the CDC study that ranked construction as the number one industry for deaths by suicide. Established by the Construction Financial Management Association in 2016 to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health issues, CIASP became a stand-alone 501(c)(3) organization in 2018 to raise awareness about suicide prevention and provide resources and tools to create a zero-suicide industry by uniting and supporting the construction community. Learn more, donate or get involved at


working out of town) which

policy and strong interpersonal

reduces isolation, one of the top

communication. We need to

non-mental illness-related risk

empower employees to create a

factors for suicide. In addition,

compassionate workplace culture

the crews know each other well

that encourages people not just

enough to not only recognize

to look out for themselves, but

warning signs but care enough

also the wellbeing and safety

to take action.

of others. A simple “how are

Next, we need to focus on information-sharing. Contractors can take several

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For immediate help, call

(800) 273-TALK (8255).

someone who is struggling. And just like any employee

steps to ensure their workers

can stop work on a jobsite for

have the information and

a safety issue, workers need to

resources they need to ask

have the same confidence to

for and receive help: promote

voice concern about suicide risk.

employee assistance programs

Suicide prevention needs to be

and other mental health

part of top-down and bottom-up

services; improve mental health

safety messaging that everyone

literacy by educating workers

is responsible for their own

about psychological safety in

safety and the safety of others.

the same way we do physical


you doing?” can be a lifeline to

In short, we need to shatter

safety; provide wellness

the stigma around mental health

workshops; and post resources,

problems and put in place mental

such as the National Suicide

health safety measures with the

Prevention Lifeline phone

same steadfastness that we do for

number (1-800-273-8255).

physical health and safety. While

We also need to educate and

this is a tall order, we all need to

empower. It is so important to

be part of the solution and stand

train leadership to be able to

up for suicide prevention. It is

identify and address signs of

our responsibility not just on

mental distress. To have difficult

construction jobsites, but also

conversations. And then to take

in our schools and workplaces,

action through suicide prevention

and with our families, friends

programs such as LivingWorks,

and communities.

which educates people on

Again, our industry is

how to identify warning signs

experiencing a public health

and approach someone at risk

crisis—and one we must

of suicide and connect them

proactively address to do better

to support. We also need to

for our workers and their families.

educate and equip supervisors

Through strong leadership and

with positive management and

commitment, we can create a

communication techniques to

cultural shift in our industry to

CIASP is dedicated to changing the statistics by educating and equipping organizations, industry service providers and construction professionals to STAND up for suicide prevention and address it as a health and safety priority.

motivate their staff.

incorporate suicide prevention

Now is the time for the industry to STAND up for suicide prevention and address it as a health and safety priority by creating safe cultures, providing training to identify and help those at risk, raising awareness about the suicide crisis in construction, normalizing conversations around suicide and mental health and ultimately decreasing the risks associated with suicide in construction. Join the movement.


34 Leader—Winter 2020

There is emotional work,

and reduce risk factors with the

too. We must stop the societal

same dedication and success as

shame surrounding mental

physical safety and health. And

health issues, especially in male-

that leadership and commitment

dominated, physical industries

needs to start today. Together

such as construction. We need

we can reach the only acceptable

to foster a caring environment

number of construction workers

that includes an open-door

dying by suicide: zero.

Greg Sizemore, vice president for health, safety, environment and workforce development for Associated Builders and Contractors is the vice chair of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and Michelle Walker, vice president of finance and administration for SCC Underground, is the chair of CIASP.


Infographic Corner

A suicide occurs

every 11 minutes

in the United States.

A CDC study found that from 2012–2015,

suicide rates were highest

among males, ages 45–64. Opioid abuse is associated with a

75 percent increased likelihood of a suicide attempt.


Veterans are at a 1.5 times greater risk

for suicide compared to nonveterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mental health issues affect

one in four people,

according to the World Health Organization.

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Leader—Winter 2020


By Jessica L. Richardson, CSP, CIT Professional and Organizational Advancement Manager, BCSP Clinton Wolfley, CSP, CHST, STSC Safety Systems and Services Manager, UCOR-AECOM J.A. Rodriguez, CSP, ASP, SGE VPPPA Chairperson

VPPPA Best Practices

A Case Study of Safety Leadership at Every Level VPPPA Overview

The Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association, Inc. (VPPPA)—The Premier Global Safety and Health Organization™, is the leading organization dedicated to cooperative occupational safety, health and environmental management systems. VPPPA, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a member-based association providing a network of more than 2,300 companies and worksites that have achieved, or are striving for, occupational safety and health excellence— including the Occupational Safety

• Innovation sharing

be more challenging than

• Mentoring programs for

safety success, the supervisor

across industries

implementing one. To achieve

organizations looking to

role must include building

take their performance to

relationships with workers,

the next level

which strengthens the

• Use of the VPPPA Body of

organization’s commitment

Knowledge phone app,

to safe operations (Carrillo,

which offers workers a ready

2010). Through safety

reference on a variety of topics and regulatory structures

Accredited Certifications: STS and STSC

education and training, supervisors become equipped to make risk-based decisions in the field, reducing errors and building credibility within the organization. Supervisors

Maintaining and sustaining

who place a high value on

an organizational culture of

safety achieve greater levels of

safety in the workplace can

safety compliance from their

and Health Administration’s (OSHA) or the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

VPPPA Best Practices VPPPA members drive

continuous improvement by developing and sharing best practices. These practices

It is notable that nearly two-thirds of all STSCs in the state of Tennessee are sponsored by UCOR. UCOR has sponsored the attainment of 273 STSC certifications since 2012. 36

Leader—Winter 2020

begin and end with worker involvement. Workforce buyin is the magic behind the sustainability and superior performance of any protective safety management system. VPPPA best practices include:

• A focus on learning from injuries and events

• A focus on worker

involvement programs designed to encourage participation and ownership

• A focus on process changes,

rather than worker discipline, for reports of injuries


workers than do supervisors who are perceived to place a low value on safety (Kapp, 2012). The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) offers Safety Trained Supervisor® (STS®) and Safety Trained Supervisor Construction® (STSC®) certifications, intended for leaders at all levels, as all workers have the responsibility for contributing to a safe working environment. The STS and STSC are intended for executives, directors, managers, supervisors, superintendents, and workers. These individuals may not have safety as their primary job duty, but their knowledge of safety practices ensures safer and healthier worksites, and their competency strengthens the foundation of safety in the organization (BCSP, 2019). BCSP’s Safety Continuum graphic positions the STS and STSC certifications at the center of sustaining an effective safety culture, with leaders at every level earning professional certifications. The best organizations are

UCOR CASE STUDY UCOR: Safety is at the Forefront

UCOR management

UCOR is an AECOM-led

leadership through a variety of

partnership with Jacobs

means, including:

under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to clean up areas within

demonstrates commitment to

• An open-door policy to all workers

• Provision of safety and

health-related personnel,

DOE’s Oak Ridge, Tennessee,

programs, materials,

Reservation. Since beginning its contract on August 1, 2011, UCOR has built an exemplary safety culture, which embraces the principal tenets of the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP)— Management Leadership, Worker Engagement, Work Site

equipment, and supplies

• Field presence and interaction through monthly walk downs

• The Voluntary

Protection Program

• A safety-conscious work environment

• Establishment of teams

to pursue excellence such

Analysis, Hazard Prevention,

as the Electrical Safety

and Control and Safety and Health Training. UCOR was awarded VPP Star status in 2015. Subsequently, the company received the VPP Star of Excellence—the highest level of recognition awarded by the program—and was re-certified as a VPP Star site in 2019. As its top-level safety designations attest, safety is at the forefront of every UCOR activity—whether it is demolishing aging hazardous

Excellence Team Support of Local Safety Improvement Teams (LSITs)

• Questioning Attitude

Recognition Program (QARP)

• Promote environment, safety, and health as a constant

value in training, designing planning, and executing work

• Enhance worker awareness an involvement to spread

ownership for environment, safety, and health throughout the workforce

• Demonstrate that UCOR is dedicated to safety excellence thorough continuous improvements While many of UCOR’s safety policies and practices are prescribed and apply equally to everyone, workers also have the opportunity to take their personal commitment to the next level through voluntary professional certifications. Workers are encouraged to obtain professional credentials

• Conservative decision making • Monthly Stewards meeting • Monthly Safety

offered by various industry

• President’s Accident

are given paid time off to

groups, including BCSP. Those who wish to pursue BCSP’s

Advocate meeting

STSC certification, for example,

Prevention Council

study for the certification. This

Worker Engagement

is yet another way worker engagement plays a key role in

Worker engagement is a central

establishing and maintaining an

nuclear facilities, operating

tenet of UCOR’s robust safety

exemplary safety culture.

environmental facilities that are

culture and is the foundation

well beyond their design life,

upon which the company’s

applicants to meet minimum

across the organization. These

managing thousands of tons

exemplary record of success

education and experience

certifications are accredited

of low-level nuclear waste, or

is built. Worker engagement

requirements and demonstrate

through the ANSI/ISO/IEC

reclaiming contaminated land

is demonstrated daily through

knowledge of basic health and

17024 standard for personnel

for economic development

comprehensive training

safety standards and practices

certification programs, which is

purposes. Protecting workers,

programs, involvement in work

through a rigorous examination

the yardstick for acceptance of

the public, and the environment

package development, and the

process. Companies that employ

is UCOR’s highest priority.

uncompromising ability to stop

STS and STSCs generally

work without retribution when

experience a decrease in

a safety concern arises. In its

accidents, incidents, and

UCOR’s commitment to

quest for safety and operational

injuries, a greater participation

may experience increased

safety starts at the top with

excellence, and with full

in safety programs, and

self-image, a sense of

the CEO and every level

management support, UCOR

improvements in productivity

accomplishment, an enhanced

of senior management

workers and subcontractors

and quality. Successful

technical confidence level, and

and extends to each of the

embrace these objectives:

candidates are recognized in

the opportunity to compete

company’s 1,900 workers

for leadership opportunities

regardless of position, length

(Greer, 2012).

of service, or job assignment.

built upon supervisors who are qualified, experienced, and trained. The STS and STSC set standard baseline knowledge

a certification by many federal, state, and local agencies. Supervisors who achieve the STS and STSC certifications


Safety: Commitment

• Strive to eliminate all injuries,

The program requires

company publications, social

illnesses, and adverse impacts

media posts, and internal TV

to the environment

information monitors.

Leader—Winter 2020


Best Practices

UCOR workers who complete these courses bring their advanced knowledge to the

STSC Award of Excellence since

concrete structure, so too

ending challenge—one that

the award’s inception in 2011.

do UCOR’s qualified STSCs

requires constant vigilance

Building on its success,

reinforce the safety culture

and continuous improvement.

workplace each day, along

UCOR’s emphasis on

willingly embraced by

As the future unfolds, UCOR

with a heightened sense of

professional development

nearly 1,900 workers. The

personnel will continue to

pride for having earned a

and technical excellence

voluntary commitment of

examine and emphasize

valuable industry credential

continues to grow. In the spring

these credentialed experts

the personal need for each

that will serve them well now

of 2018, UCOR supervisors

goes above what is required. It

individual to demonstrate

and in the future. Recipients

joined candidates across the

helps make the safety culture

caring for their own safety

report increased confidence

country in taking an extensive

even stronger, more enduring,

and the safety of their

in carrying out their daily

examination in pursuit of

and less susceptible to failure

coworkers. The UCOR team

tasks. They also appreciate

a new BCSP certification—

due to complacency or lack of

remains engaged, prepared,

the respect this certification

the Safety Management

situational awareness.

and committed to a culture of

engenders among safety-

Specialist® (SMS®). Four

conscious coworkers. It is

UCOR workers obtained this

an individual achievement

certification demonstrating

that benefits the entire

the management and safety

organization—a personal

skills needed to assure safe

reinforcement of UCOR’s core

operations. Exam topics

value that safety is always paramount on every job. The desire to be recognized

included defining and utilizing the organization’s safety management systems,

as an STSC is contagious

risk management, incident

within the UCOR workforce.

investigation, and emergency

Building on coworker success,

preparedness. The certification

the number of successful

also confirms knowledge

candidates grows each

of safety, health, and

year, not only improving

environmental concepts and

the individual worker’s

regulations and identifying the

value to the organization, but also strengthening the commitment to safety of the entire workforce. It is notable

business case for safety. In 2019, industrial hygienist technicians demonstrated their occupational safety and

that nearly two-thirds of all

health knowledge and skills

STSCs in the state of Tennessee

by taking BCSP’s Occupational

are sponsored by UCOR. UCOR

Hygiene and Safety Technician®

has sponsored the attainment

(OHST®) certification exam.

of 273 STSC certifications

The exam consists of questions

since 2012.

related to worksite assessment,

Credentialed UCOR workers

hazard control, loss prevention,

Mission Ready

Professional certifications are also viewed as part of being

involvement and ownership

workforce, UCOR management

are paramount to safety

launched a Mission Ready

performance success.

program in 2019. This new

Organizations that sponsor

12-month program is designed

STS and STSC certifications

to help all UCOR workers

for workers at all levels have

understand when unsafe

a distinct advantage in safety

challenges may compromise

performance, as workers

their ability to perform their

have the competence and

duties safely for the day.

confidence to take ownership

The Mission Ready initiative

being made in the field. UCOR

all accidents are preventable.

empowers workers on the front

The goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses on the job to zero. To do that, every person must be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to do what needs to be done. Those who aren’t are asked to voice their concerns, with the understanding that supervisors will seek an alternative task for

addressed emergency response, professional responsibility, and

VPPPA national conference,

other health and safety topics.

physically, workers are

Undergirding the Safety Culture

acclimated, properly nourished,

that worker. To be Mission Ready required to be able-bodied, hydrated, and stretched. For

In one sense, UCOR

proper mental and emotional

and “Safety Culture Training

management views

readiness, workers should

for Front Line Leaders.” In

professional certifications

be focused, managing stress,

addition, Michelle Keever, a

as a critical part of the

mindful, and trained.

UCOR safety manager, was

undergirding of its robust

recognized by BCSP as the first

safety culture. Just as rows

ensuring a safe work

individual to qualify for the

of steel rebar reinforce a

environment is a never-


Leader—Winter 2020

of the risk-based decisions

underscores UCOR’s belief that

certification. During the latest

Certifications: STS and STSC”


safety awareness among the

the value of professional

Trained Supervisors

end of the cleanup contract. recognize that worker

and disaster planning. It also

on topics including, “Safety

safe and strong finish to the

Mission Ready. To bolster

help spread the word about

UCOR provided presentations

excellence that will ensure a

UCOR recognizes that

line by investing in BCSP’s STS and STSC certifications, a best practice in attaining the VPP Star of Excellence and maintaining VPP Star status.

REFERENCES Board of Certified Safety Professionals (2019). STSC. Retrieved from: http://bcsp.org/STSC Carillo, R. (2010). Positive Safety Culture: How to Create, Lead and Maintain. Professional Safety, 55 (5), 47–54. Greer, E. (2012). Want to Improve Construction Safety? Invest in Supervisor Credentials. Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, Vol. 46 (5), 60–62. Kapp, E.A. (2012). The Influence of Supervisor Leadership Practices and Perceived Group Safety Climate on Worker Safety Performance. Safety Science, Vol. 50 (4), 1119–1124.


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Membership Corner

Meet the VPPPA Team

As VPPPA members, you talk to National Office Staff members on the phone, chat with us via email and sometimes see us at

Name: Sara Taylor Job Title: Director of Operations Length of Time with VPPPA: Seven years this time

regional and national events.

around—13 years total.

But we want our members

Favorite Parts of Working for

to be able to more easily put names with faces. Check back here in future issues to see more VPPPA National Office staff member profiles.

VPPPA: The food, we love a good potluck in the office. I also have a huge amount of respect and greater awareness for safety and health. I recently attended an SGE course and my new goal is to get VPP Star status for the VPPPA National Office. Hometown: Naha, Okinawa/ wherever the Army sends you/ deep in the Shenandoah Valley. Alma Mater: Longwood University, GO LANCERS! I’m

Winter Members of the Month

Congratulations to our Winter (December 2019, January, February) Members of the Month: Rob Deery, Maureen Kamphaus and Ashleigh Pope. Want to submit someone to be considered as a VPPPA Member of the Month? Email membership@vpppa.org. You can also check out all of the previous Members of the Month on our website.

kidding, I was never into sports. I did work in the dining hall for four years but a shoutout to food service seems odd. But hey, GO DHall! Fun Facts About Me: I’ve visited more than 40 countries, I have several tattoos, I have 27 first cousins, my parents have been married for 43 years, I have broken my ankle three times, while I am tall, I have zero athletic ability, and I love the World Series Champions—the Washington Nationals! Favorite Food: Chocolate or anything covered in chocolate (except oranges because I’m highly allergic, so I’ll die). Favorite Movie: Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, all of the Harry Potter & Hunger Games films, Finding Dory and Arrival. Dream/Next Vacation Spot: Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius or anywhere else I haven’t been yet. Favorite Musician/Band: Linkin Park and Loreena McKennitt.

40 Leader—Winter 2020

Enter the VPPPA Roster Contest

To ensure each of our members are receiving the benefits they deserve, we need your site rosters to be updated. Send your updated roster to membership@vpppa.org by July 1 for a chance to win an Amazon gift card. If you need another copy of your site's roster, please contact the Membership Department via the email address above or call (703) 761-1146. If you have already submitted your site's roster, you are entered into our random drawing. The winner will be chosen by July 6.

Congratulations to All of Our VPPPA Trivia Winners

Thank you to all of our 2019 Trivia Contest winners for celebrating our 35th Birthday: Sheri F., Cintas; Kim B., Acushnet Golf; Vanessa K., Nucor; Brian B., Shermco; Joshua H., Prairie State Generating Company; Elisa C., Huber; Keenan M., Solvay; Nevena S., Sherwin; Neha S., Honeywell; Leischen N., Alstom Group; Jake V., Occidental Chemical Corporation; Tonya W., Firestone Industrial Products/Bridgestone; Lesli Trahan, Chevron Phillips Chemical; Scott Slie, Westlake Chemical; Donald B., Aerojet Rocketdyne; Zach G., Morton Salt; Elsy P., Multi-Plastics Extrusions, Inc.; Tiffany H., Entergy; Eric S., PROTEC Coating Company, Jennifer T., Nuclear Waste Partnership; Tonya W., Firestone Industrial Products/Bridgestone; Guillermo D., Phillips 66; Eric D., University of Notre Dame; Jeff B., Fiberteq.


Compiled By Katlyn Pagliuca Membership Manager, VPPPA, Inc.

State-Plan Monitor


Lone Worker Program at NuStar Energy

Iowa OSHA VPP has been focused on employees working alone in remote or hazardous locations. Recently, NuStar Energy’s VPP Star sites in Iowa have implemented a lone worker program that requires lone workers to wear a device that

New VPP Star Site

The following site was approved

• Cardinal IG—Greenfield (October 2019)

Reapproved VPP Star Site

• Collins Aerospace—Bellevue (October 2019)

GPS location and incapacitation alerts. Bruce Myers, Senior

in the Michigan Voluntary

Manager Area Operations, reports

Protection Program (MVPP),

that the program is working well.

with 28 Star, two Rising

Iowa Hosts VPPPA Conference

• 2020 Region VII VPPPA

Midwest Safety and Health

participant successfully achieved

application process.

MNSTAR status in FY 2019. In

An MVPP initial onsite review

for participation:


provides routine status checks,

Hudson to discuss the MVPP

There are currently 33 sites

Star (Merit), two MVPP/C (construction), and one MVPP/C Rising Star site. The following is a quick update of MIOSHA MVPP activities.

has been conducted at Robert Bosch, LLC, Plymouth, and a Star onsite review has been conducted at Cintas Cleanroom Resources, Westland. An MVPP Star award

pending for the MVPP/C:

• Robert Bosch, LLC, Plymouth Initial Approvals

Sites recently approved for participation in the MVPP:

Cintas Fire Protection— D26, Troy

• Honeywell, Muskegon

continued participation in

The annual Region VII VPPPA

by the DTE Milford

the MVPP:

Conference is the premier forum for occupational safety and health and environmental professionals, hourly workers and business leaders from sites seeking VPP approval and organizations striving to improve their safety and health management systems.

Compressor Station. The MVPP/C Advisory Group met on November 7, 2019. MVPP triennial onsite reevaluations have been conducted at:

• Herman Miller Midwest Distribution, Holland

• OxyChem, Ludington MVPP/C Specialist,

Pre-Commercial—(Redwood Falls, MN) was recommended MNSTAR site

Applications currently

Mentors Meeting was hosted

The Fall 2019 MVPP/C

• Monsanto—Redwood Falls and certified as a full

Des Moines.

Downtown Marriott

The following site achieved MNSTAR status in FY 2019:

Marathon TT&R, Lansing.


April 27–29, 2020

recertification visits completed.

celebration was held at

Reevaluation Approvals

Conference and Expo

addition, four employers had

Sites recently reapproved for

• Herman Mill Hickory, Spring Lake

• PotlatchDeltic, Gwinn Upcoming Events

• MVPP/C Mentors meeting— April 6, 2020

• MVPP/C Advisory group meeting—TBD

“Like” us on Facebook,

The following sites were visited in FY 2019:

• Marvin Windows


• Aptim Services LLC


• Danfoss Power Solutions


• Sysco Asian Foods

(Reapproved)—St. Paul MNOSHA Workplace Safety

Consultation continues to receive inquires and has begun visiting employers that have indicated they will be submitting an application in FY 2020. FY 2020 will see 11 reapproval visits at existing MNSTAR employers. Having a dedicated MNSTAR team has allowed us to build strong working relationships with our partners and has helped open lines of communication from site to site. Our MNSTAR

Iowa VPP Site Update

Doug Kimmel met with

follow us on Twitter and

sites share best practices from

There are 43 VPP Star sites in

representatives from Reith-

subscribe to our YouTube:

site to site which allows all

Iowa. The following is an update

Riley Construction, Petoskey


employers to strive to be better.

of Iowa OSHA VPP activities.

and Atlas Copco, New

For further details on the

In addition, the annual

MVPP, contact Doug Kimmel,

Minnesota Safety Council

MVPP specialist at 517-719-7296,

Annual Safety Conference will

or visit the MIOSHA website at

be held at the Mystic Lake


Center May 12–13, 2020.


information about the

The Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA)


Workplace Safety Consultation


(WSC) unit currently has 35


STAR sites participating in

mnstar-program or contact

the MNSTAR program. Of the

Marnie Prochniak, MNSTAR/

35 STAR sites, 33 are general

VPP Coordinator at marnie.

industry locations and two are


resident contractors. One new


If you would like further

Cardinal IG hosted a VPP flag ceremony on December 11, 2019. vpppa.org

MNSTAR Program, please visit

Leader—Winter 2020



contacting each state


On September 17, TDLWFD Deputy Commissioner Steve Hawkins presented the employees of Honeywell International in Memphis, TN, with the Volunteer Star Award. This was the first time the company has received the award. On October 16, TOSHA VPP Manager, David Blessman, presented the employees of Performance Pipe in Knoxville with the Volunteer Star Award. This was the fourth time the company has received the award. Successful on-site evaluations were recently conducted at ITW Dynatec in Hendersonville, TN, and Owens Corning in Springfield, TN.


Since the Autumn edition of the Leader, Oregon has conducted three more VPP evaluation audits and has scheduled four more to be completed by April 2020. We have reapproved three sites and have another working on their 90-day items. SGEs continue to play an important role in audits, as the SGEs have proven themselves to be valued team members. Oregon OSHA would like to publicize the following scheduled conferences throughout the state:

• Oregon SHARP Alliance Region I Training Session, January

14, 2020, Sustaining and Improving Safety Management, in to be held in Portland/Metro.

• Mid-Oregon Construction Safety Summit, January 27–28, 2020, Riverhouse on the Deschutes, Bend.

• Cascade Occupational Safety & Health Conference, March 2–3, 2020, Graduate Hotel, Eugene.

• Oregon SHARP Alliance General Training Session, March 12, 2020, Improving Your Safety Program, Taking Safety to the Next Level, Durham.

• Oregon SHARP Alliance Region I Training Session, April 14, 2020, topic and site TBA in Portland/Metro.

• Northwest Safety & Health Summit by Region X VPPPA, May 12–14, 2020, The Grove Hotel & Boise Centre, Boise, ID.


The Washington State Plan VPP program currently has 32 VPP sites (31 Star and 1 Merit). Since the last issue we have completed evaluations for two new participants and 1 recertification, approval reports are in process. For 2020 our program will be performing 11 reapproval evaluations and at least one evaluation for a new participant. For 2019 Washington VPP staff had 11 outreach interactions at employer worksites who expressed interest in VPP. Information about the program and workplace safety and health information was provided. VPP staff also conducted check-in audits of five existing VPP sites who were either mid-certification cycle or noted changes in leadership, processes or procedures in their annual self-evaluation.


Leader—Winter 2020

Alaska Christian Hendrickson VPP Manager Christian.hendrickson@alaska.gov Phone: (907) 269-4946

New Mexico Melissa Barker VPP Coordinator melissa.barker@state.nm.us Phone: (505) 222-9595

Arizona Jessie Atencio Assistant Director jessie.atencio@azdosh.gov Phone: (520) 220-4222

North Carolina LaMont Smith Recognition Program Manager lamont.smith@labor.nc.gov Phone: (919) 807-2909

California Iraj Pourmehraban Cal/VPP & PSM Manager ipourmehraban@hq.dir.ca.gov Phone: (510) 622-1080

Oregon Mark E. Hurliman, CSHM VPP/SHARP Program Coordinator mark.e.hurliman@oregon.gov Phone: (541) 776-6016

Hawaii Nicole G. Bennett OSH Program Specialist Administrative & Technical Support Manager nicole.g.bennett@hawaii.gov Phone: (808) 586-9081

Puerto Rico Judith M. Cruz Concepción Puerto Rico VPP Manager ​PR OSHA Voluntary Programs Division Cruz.Judith@dol.gov Phone: (787) 754-2172 ext 3343

Indiana Beth A. Gonzalez VPP Team Leader bgonzalez@dol.in.gov Phone: (317) 607-6118

South Carolina Sharon Dumit VPP Coordinator sharon.dumit@llr.sc.gov Phone: (803) 896-7788

Iowa Shashi Patel VPP Coordinator patel.shashi@iwd.iowa.gov Phone: (515) 281-6369

Tennessee David Blessman VPP Manager david.blessman@tn.gov Phone: (615) 253-6890

Kentucky Brian Black VPP Program Administrator brian.black@ky.gov Phone: (502) 564-3320

Utah Jerry Parkstone VPP Coordinator jparkstone@utah.gov Phone: (801) 530-6901

Maryland Allen Stump VPP Manager allen.stump@maryland.gov Phone: (410) 527-4473

Vermont Daniel Whipple VPP Coordinator dan.whipple@vermont.gov Phone: (802) 828-5084

Michigan Sherry Scott MVPP Manager scotts1@michigan.gov Phone: (517) 322-5817

Virginia Milford Stern VPP Manager milford.stern@doli.virginia.gov Phone: (540) 562-3580 x 123

Minnesota Tyrone Taylor, MBA Director of Workplace Safety Consultation MN Dept. of Labor & Industry Occupational Safety & Health Division tyrone.taylor@state.mn.us Phone: (651) 284-5203

Washington John Geppert VPP Manager gepp.235@lni.wa.gov Phone: (360) 902-5496

Nevada Jimmy Andrews VPP Manager jimmy.andrews@business.nv.gov Phone: (702) 486-9046

Wyoming Clayton Gaunt VPP Manager clayrton.gaunt1@wyo.gov Phone: (307) 777-7710

For additional information and up-to-date contacts, please visit www.vpppa.org/chapters/contacts.cfm vpppa.org

Compiled by Jamie Mitchell Communications Coordinator, VPPPA, Inc.

Regional Round-Ups

REGION I vppregion1.com

Region I is preparing for its annual conference happening June 15–17, 2020, at the Killington Resort in Killington, VT. We are looking for speakers, exhibitors and sponsors. Anyone interested in any of these, or interested in helping the Region I Board of Directors with any conference activities, please reach out to any board member. More information can be found on the Region I website. Region I is planning on holding a VPP application preconference workshop at the annual conference in Killington, VT, on June 15–17, 2020. The Region will also be having an SGE Training at GE Healthcare in Westborough, MA, on September 15–17, 2020. For more information about either of these events, please keep checking the Region I website for updates, or ask any of the Region I Board of Directors.


• A new mentor/mentee match up in Region I: VPP Star site Huber Engineered Woods, LLC in Easton, ME, mentoring Irving Forest Products in Ashland, ME.

• A recent flag-raising

ceremony took place at Veolia ES Technical Solutions, LLC in Charlestown, MA, on October 30, 2019. 2020 Board of Directors

elections will be held at the

There are currently three scholarships available to workers and their families in Region I. The scholarships are awarded to students who meet the criteria mentioned in the scholarship guidelines which can be found on the Region I website. Applicants are encouraged to read all the qualifications and to supply the needed paperwork prior to the due date in ordered to be considered for one of the scholarships. The Region I website has a new look and contains information the Region I membership may find useful, such as: a current list of Region I SGEs; Best Practices from Region I VPP sites; and information about upcoming conferences, meetings, scholarship opportunities and trainings. Contributed by Karen Girardin, Region I Chairperson



Region II currently has six upcoming VPP evaluations with spots open for SGEs. Contact Ms. Greta Olsson, Olsson.greta@ dol.gov, if you are interested in volunteering for any of these SGE opportunities. More details on our website. Our next SGE class will be held March 31–April 2, 2020, at VPP Star Site Bartell Machinery. Lockheed Martin in Owego,

annual Region I Conference in

NY, celebrated a ceremony on

Killington, VT, on June 16. The

November 12, 2019, marking their

positions up for election are:

25 years as a VPP participant.

Vice Chair, Secretary, Hourly

OSHA sent Deputy Regional

Representative from a Site with

Administrator Steve Kaplan and

a Collective Bargaining Unit,

Area Director Jeff Prebish to make

and three Director-at-Large

some congratulatory remarks.

positions. Anyone interested in

The Region II Chairperson,

applying can check the Region I

Robert Brynes, was also in

website for more information.

attendance and spoke.


Pictured above: Veolia ES Technical Solutions, LLC in Charlestown, MA, celebrating a flag-raising ceremony.

Pictured above: Honeywell UOP—Tonawanda, NY; Oxyv Vinyls— Pedricktown, NY; Ultra Electronics/Flightline Systems—Victor, NY Leader—Winter 2020



Conference which will be held

also hosts the monthly

April 27–May 1, at the Kalahari

board meeting minutes

Resorts & Convention Center

and conference mobile app

in Pocono Manor, PA. Visit our

instructions which are clear

website to register, become a

and user friendly for everyone.

sponsor, volunteer, presenter, vendor, and download our mobile app. The Region III Board’s vision is, “To be the most respected safety and health association through the innovation and

REGION IV regionivvpp.org

advancement of the Voluntary

The 29th Annual Region IV

Protection Programs.”

VPPPA Safety and Health

There will be a SGE class

Excellence Conference was

prior to our conference on April

held June 18–20 in historic

27. When visiting the website

Chattanooga, TN. Keynote

use the easy-to-follow links

Speakers were Steven Hawkins

to register or sign up to be a

and David Sarkus. There were

vendor, sponsor, presenter,

440 in attendance, with 56

view the monthly board meeting

exhibitors presenting a wide

minutes or become a volunteer.

array of products and services.

The Region III Board of

The conference began

Directors just held a face to

with 25 VPP site employees

face meeting in Hershey, PA,

completing training and

to discuss plans for their 2023

being sworn in as Special

conference and review if the

Government Employees

Hershey Hotel would be a

(SGEs). SGEs are valuable

match to host a conference.

assets to OSHA and the VPP

We also held elections for

Program as a whole. We

several open positions (Chair,

congratulate these individuals

Secretary) which were voted on

and thank them for their

and announced. Mike LaPradd

service to the VPP Program.

• OxyVinyls—Pedricktown, NJ

Huber Engineered Woods,

The conference offered a

LLC will serve another term

number of pre-conference

• Johns Manville Roofing

as Chair and John Dyer Veolia

workshops which were well

Environmental Solutions &

attended by a number of

• Honeywell UOP—

Services will serve another

conference participants. The

term as Secretary. All of the

conference opening session

• Ultra Electronics / Flightline

board members are listed

included an inspirational and

on our website if anyone has

motivation message from

questions or needs to contact a

Steven Hawkins (Tennessee

Region III board member.

Department of Labor and

Recent flag-raising ceremonies (pictured on page 43): (Star Reapproval)

Systems—Plattsburgh, NY Tonawanda, NY

Systems—Victor, NY (Merit) Finally, we currently

have an open position for

The Region III Board of

Workforce Development—

Directors has an excellent

Deputy Commissioner of

website thanks to the

Employment Safety and

Contributed by Grace Irby, Region II Media Coordinator

dedication, commitment and

Security). Mr. Hawkins

expertise of our “IT” member,

has long been an avid

Rob Deery from Cintas. Rob

supporter of VPP and of


has made the Region III

Region IV VPPPA. It was an

website very user-friendly

enlightening experience to

and paperless, with links for

hear Mr. Hawkins’ perspective

The Region III Board of

registering, sponsorship,

on workplace safety and

Directors is very hard at work

vendors, breakout speakers

the humorous real-life

planning the 2020 Region III

and volunteers. The website

experiences he shared during

Vice Chairperson.


44 Leader—Winter 2020

Contributed by John Dyer, Region III Secretary


the session. The conference offered 48 individual breakout sessions, three paid workshops and five free pre-conference workshops on a variety of health and safety topics. Every year the Region IV Board of Directors hosts a networking event during our conference. We get a great deal of feedback that those who choose to attend greatly enjoy the opportunity to network as well as have a little fun. This year’s event took the group to an Aquatic Adventure at the Tennessee Aquarium where heavy hors d’oeuvres and incredible views of the creatures of the aquarium were enjoyed. Concluding the conference this year was closing keynote speaker David Sarkus, MS, CSP. Mr. Sarkus’ message of the importance of being “your brothers’ keeper” combined with his enlightened coaching methodology, prepared the group to return to their respective workplaces refreshed and renewed to push their health and safety programs to an even higher level of safety excellence. The Region IV Board of Directors are busily working to Plan the 30th Annual Region IV VPPPA Safety and Health

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, celebrating their flag raising ceremonies at their E-Coat Facility and West Plant Facility.



Conference planning is in full swing for the 2020 VPPPA Region V Conference. The 2020

Excellence Conference. This

conference will be held in Lake

year’s conference will be held

Geneva, Wisconsin. This is

June 9–11 at the Birmingham–

our second conference at this

Jefferson Convention

location, and we are back for a

Complex. The conference is

reason! The feedback from our

already shaping up to be a

conference attendees was great

stellar event, with incredible speakers, engaging keynotes and a conference event at the TopGolf located adjacent to the conference hotel. Registration is now open, so please visit www.regionivvpp.org to register. Contributed by Christopher Colburn, Region IV Vice Chairperson vpppa.org

when we were in Lake Geneva in 2017. We are looking forward to

Oshkosh Defense Achieves VPP Star Status at Two Facilities

team members.”

Oshkosh Corporation company,

Board of Directors Update

earned VPP Star status at both

at-large position open. If

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an

the E-Coat Facility and its West Plant Facility. A representative from

Currently, there is one Directorinterested, please reach out to Eric Siefker at siefkeej@ proteccoating.com.

Oshkosh said, “VPP Star status embodies Oshkosh’s core values—our team members are always at the forefront of what we do. At Oshkosh, we continue

a great turnout with awesome

to focus on caring for our

speakers and presentations.

people and improving our work

The VPP Application

safe workplace for all Oshkosh

environment, so they can go

Contributed by Jimmy Jacquez, Region V Director Ex-Officio

REGION IX regionixvpppa.org

Well, here we are again. The holidays are over, Christmas

Workshop, registration and the

home safely to their families.

Opening Reception will be on

Oshkosh Defense is proud to

April 28. The official conference

have earned this recognition

has arrived, can you believe

will be from April 29–30.

by creating and maintaining a

it . . . we are smack-dab in

came and went, (in a flash, I might add), and the New Year

Leader—Winter 2020



2020! With the holidays gone

am sure they would welcome

want to join us for the Post

workforce (construction) VPP.

it seems we have nothing to

your assistance in any way.

Conference Workshop on

Keep up the good work, Brandon!

look forward to for a while. Ok,

What could be better than

April 24, 2020. Join in and

ok, don’t get upset, I have just

hundreds of like-minded

be better prepared for your

what you need. What about the

professionals, sharing tried

onsite re-assessment. Wait!

2020 Regional Safety Summit

and true methodologies,

Did I mention we even have an

to grow the Cal VPP program,

in Las Vegas, NV, April 21–23,

best practices, and a whole

opportunity if you’re looking

which boasts an impressive 64

2020. That’s right, I said Las

bunch of knowledge, all aimed

to become an SGE? We've got it

Vegas; “Winner, Winner,

at making our collective

sites according to the website.

all! From April 18–20, there is

Chicken Dinner.” Sorry, I got

workforce, safer, healthier,

an SGE workshop just for you.

Cal OSHA has a comprehensive

carried away!

stronger and happier. Come

Again, just go to the website

join us and learn from those

for additional information.

This year’s venue lands us at the spectacular, M Resort

who have taken the challenge.

Spa & Casino. The Region IX

Those of you who are new

VPPPA Board of Directors

to the process may want to

and their team of volunteers,

take advantage of the Pre-

have feverishly been working

Conference VPP Application

to deliver yet another stellar

Workshop on April 20, 2020.

experience. If you haven’t signed

If your company is past the

up, no worries, you can do so,

application point, and you’re

just by going to our website.

anxiously waiting for the

If you want to get involved, let the Region IX team know, I

auditors to come back for your re-evaluation, you may

So what’s happening in the region?


Iraj Pourmehraban continues

link, from which you can obtain additional information on their VPP efforts throughout California, including a new link, which shows workshops


and events related to VPP as

of Occupational Safety &

to improve safety and health

It seems The Arizona Division Health (ADOSH), and the

well as other events designed management within your

Industrial Commission of

organization. More information

Arizona (ICA), the agency

can be obtained at this link:

ADOSH is housed under, have


put themselves to the test, and


they have been recommended as a VPP STAR site. They will become the fiftieth


Hawaii continues to seek

site in Arizona to achieve

additions to the VPP family

the VPP STAR recognition.

and currently their website

In conversations with the

shows three sites who are

states VPP Manager, Brandon

recognized as VPP Star sites. If

Stowell, a team consisting of SGE’s from Raytheon, Kitchell, Special Devices Inc., United Technologies and Central Arizona Project were onsite for a three-day VPP assessment and made the recommendation to recognize the agency as a VPP STAR site. Brandon indicated the audit team was impressed with both, best practices within the organization and the Arizona Management System. They were also impressed by the way in which the culture of safety was embraced. Congratulations to the ICA and to ADOSH for this milestone achievement! Additionally, Brandon

you would like to connect with a representative of the Hawaii VPP program, contact Nicole Bennett at 808-586-9100.


Nevada VPP Stars make up an impressive list of 10 companies who have taken the challenge and accomplished the coveted VPP STAR recognition. Nevada SCATS continues to educate the community on the benefits of the VPP program and the improvements, participation can bring, to your organization! For more information go to: www.4safenv.state.nv.us/ consultation/recognition-

explained, in the upcoming


months he will be busy with


as many as eight re-approval visits and submission of two new applications for the mobile

46 Leader—Winter 2020

Contributed by Mark Norton, Region IX Ambassador


More events to come! Check VPPPA Regional websites for up-to-date information.

Calendar of Events February



Safety+ Symposium registration opens


National Board of Directors Meeting & Congressional Outreach May


Early bird rate ends for the Safety+ Symposium

Des Moines, IA

Region VII Conference

27–May 1

Las Vegas, NV

Lake Geneva, WI

Denver, CO

Region IX Conference


Region V Conference

Region VIII Conference


Boise, Idaho

Birmingham, AL

Region IV Conference



San Antonio, TX

Killington, VT

VPPPA contacts

Pocono Manor, PA

Region II & III Conference



Region VI Conference




Region X Conference

27–May 1



Regular rate ends for Safety+ Symposium

Region I Conference


Orlando, FL

To reach the VPPPA National Office, call (703) 761-1146 or visit www. vpppa.org. To reach a particular staff member, please refer to the contact information below.

Sara A. Taylor, CMP Director of Operations staylor@vpppa.org

Jamie Mitchell Communications Coordinator jmitchell@vpppa.org

Sierra Johnson Special Projects Coordinator sjohnson@vpppa.org

Natasha Cole Events Coordinator ncole@vpppa.org

Heidi Hill Senior Event Sales & Advertising Coordinator hhill@vpppa.org

Bryant Walker, CIOS, CSIS Information & Data Analyst Manager bwalker@vpppa.org

Katlyn Pagliuca Membership Manager kpagliuca@vpppa.org

Courtney Malveaux, Esq Government Relations Counsel cmalveaux@vpppa.org

Kerri Carpenter Communications & Outreach Manager kcarpenter@vpppa.org


Leader—Winter 2020


7600 Leesburg Pike, East Building, Suite 100 Falls Church, VA 22043-2004 Tel: (703) 761-1146 Fax: (703) 761-1148 www.vpppa.org VPPPA, a nonprofit 501(c) (3) charitable organization, promotes advances in worker safety and health excellence through best practices and cooperative efforts among workers, employers, the government and communities.





• Keeps extension ladders from slipping on slick surfaces such as composite decking • Unique design of foam creates tiny suction cups that grip the surface, even when wet • Light weight for easy use, weighs less than 6 pounds • Works on smooth surfaces, plastic, wood, concrete, etc., even when wet • Prevents marring and scratches to deck caused by ladder feet • Attaches to the bottom ladder rung, with adjustable strap, for easy movement of ladder along wall • Fits most extension ladders, up to 21” wide • Replaceable self-adhesive foam pad

Ladder falls – 2nd leading cause of work-related injuries!* * https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ nioshtic-2/20034690.html

Working Concepts, Inc.

888-456-3372 • www.softknees.com • info@softknees.com Patent Pending

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The Leader Winter 2020 - Mental Health  

The Winter 2020 issue of the Leader magazine focuses on mental health and its impact in the workplace.

The Leader Winter 2020 - Mental Health  

The Winter 2020 issue of the Leader magazine focuses on mental health and its impact in the workplace.

Profile for vpppa

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