Crews at Overaa Construction just completed their 702,840 safe work hour. Fifteen months without an accident is no accident, according to Tim Fitzpatrick, Safety Director at Overaa Construction.
Partnering with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) has helped Overaa achieve a safety track record worth celebrating.
The California Voluntary Protection Program is a labor-management-government cooperative program designed to recognize workplaces with outstanding health and safety management systems for protection of workers and go beyond minimal compliance with the Cal/OSHA Title 8 standards. Currently, nineteen California construction companies are active participants in VPP. The design and performance of each firm’s health and safety programs undergo intense scrutiny by Cal/OSHA before being invited into the program. Overaa was the 11th contractor in the state to be accepted into the program.
“VPP status means Cal/OSHA doesn’t have to send inspectors out to police our jobsites. Rather, Cal/OSHA entrusts us to monitor our work practices,” said Christopher Manning, President of Overaa. “I see more teamwork and a sort of hyper-safety-vigilance. We are all looking out for one another.”VPP companies are recognized as workplace safety leaders within their industry according to Cal/OSHA.
Overaa has been a participant in the program since 2007. “While team work results in less health care costs, the program also results in other indirect benefits” said Manning. “We can achieve more job site efficiencies in terms of daily planning and task sequencing. Also, VPP status is highly regarded in this industry and increases job referrals and bid acceptance.”
The VPP program allows Cal/OSHA to focus its programmed inspection efforts on other work sites. Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector declined by 10% from 2009-2010 and are down nearly 40% since 2006. Economic conditions and fewer work hours explain much of this decline. However, even with lower fatal injury totals in 2010, construction accounted for more fatal work injuries than any other industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Rather than a punitive enforcement approach, the VPP program is designed to positively encourage the best practices of the workplace and Cal/OSHA. It becomes everyone’s responsibility to maintain safety standards.
“Companies that have received the recognition of VPP all have something in common – they stress teamwork,” says Tim Fitzpatrick, Overaa Safety Director. “Across the country there is a relationship between teamwork and safety. Companies that stress teamwork often have good safety records. All Overaa employees consider themselves a member of the VPP team, and that’s important for motivating people to act.”
Acceptance in the Cal/VPP indicates that the company’s management and employees have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to maintaining the safety and health system. As a result, VPP sites usually see a significant reduction in injuries and accidents. Troy Tagliaboschi, Overaa Superintendent, embodies the success of the program through practical daily application on the construction site. He explains, “Every day starts with safety and ends with safety. Each morning starts with a discussion of how we will work safely that day. We take a couple of minutes to stretch, then talk about how we will prevent mishaps. At the end of the day, we finish with a thorough cleanup. This way, we make sure that our guys work safely so that they return home to their families at the end of the day … every day.”
About Overaa Construction
Overaa Construction, founded in 1907, continues today as a 4th generation, family-owned and operated general contractor. Headquartered in the East Bay, the company conducts operations throughout Northern California and is currently building the Stanford Linear Accelerator User Support Building in Menlo Park, The Moraga Country Club, and the US Army Reserve Training Center in Concord, CA.
# # #