New VPPPA Chairman Sets Priorities

J.A. Rodriguez, Jr., CSP, SGE, was elected chair of the VPPPA national board of directors at the 2018 VPPPA Safety+ symposium in Nashville. He is ready to hit the ground running, listing four strategic initiatives as his first priority.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- J.A. Rodriguez, Jr., CSP, SGE, was elected chair of the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association national board of directors at the 2018 #VPPPA2018 Safety+ symposium in Nashville. He's ready to hit the ground running; Rodriguez lists four strategic initiatives as his first priority in the following email interview with OH&S Editor Jerry Laws.

What are your priorities for your two-year term as VPPPA Chairman?
My first priority is to bring our four strategic initiatives to the forefront in all that we do: demonstrate value, grow strategic partnerships, enhance global presence, and be viewed as the resource for safety management system excellence. We will accomplish this by leveraging our networks, by focusing on opportunities to increase membership involvement, by widening the distribution of our products and services, by identifying common causes and offering a viable platform to bring solutions to challenges, by outreaching to global organizations and by establishing and sharing our body of knowledge.

Our VPP and non-VPP member companies have figured out how to lower risk to the point of excellence. Our focus is to share this with the world so that workers everywhere, in every corner of the Earth, are protected.

Another one of my priorities is to form powerful partnerships with OSHA, ASSP, NSC, AIHA, BCSP, CPWR, NIOSH, and other amazing organizations. This will give us ways that we can help each other raise the level of employer competence in implementing safety management systems by lowering occupational risk for all workers.

What is the significance to VPPPA and its member companies of OSHA's 2018 Revised VPP Policy Memorandum #7?
OSHA's revised VPP Policy Memorandum #7 offers our VPP member companies due process. No work-related fatality is acceptable, period. In the advent of one, there must be a systematic approach to ascertain the causes, drivers, and reasons leading to the event. Only then can a sustainable solution be implemented to lower occupational risk and prevent recurrence. The revised Memorandum #7 offers this approach.

Our VPP member sites are held to a much higher standard than any other workplace in the United States. We accept that. What is unreasonable to expect is absolute perfection 100% of the time at every site, everywhere, every second of the day, every day, every week, every year, and every decade. No credible and standardized safety management system on the planet can promise, nor deliver, absolute perfection. Yet our VPP members are held accountable to this performance expectation. If there is a perfect safety management system out there that guarantees and performs to 100% flawlessness, I would love to hear about it. OSHA's Memorandum #7 recognizes that due process is an important element in determining a path forward for all VPP sites.

The association's FY2017 annual report listed five international members as of 6/30/17. Is it important to increase that number, and if so, how can VPPPA grow that number?
Enhancing global presence is one of our four strategic priorities. Our focus is not to increase international members, although all are welcomed to join our amazing member companies. Our focus is to bring the lessons from our world-class members to the international stage in order to raise global safety management system competencies and performance. We are driven to share, to lower risk, and to drive performance excellence by design. I believe growing the number of our international members will occur organically by consistently delivering value at every opportunity.

What are the biggest challenges the association faces and the biggest opportunities you see for it?
The biggest challenge I see at this juncture is the speed at which the domestic and global markets are changing. We are living in a time of continuous change and we as an Association must remain limber enough, innovative enough, and adaptable enough to be ahead of these changes. We must not only be there and prepared when the future arrives, we must create it. The biggest opportunity we have is that our membership is experiencing the same global marketplace challenges. In this regard, I foresee greater opportunity to identify common causes, to join forces, and to develop sustainable solutions which continuously deploy a safety management system that is predictive, transformational, and effective at lowering occupational risk.

Are there any changes on the horizon for the Safety+ annual conference?
Plan on it! The Safety+ Symposium will bring to the national stage solutions to the toughest issues facing employers in virtually every industry sector. We are looking at bringing in more thought leaders and offering platforms for company executives, health and safety leaders, unions, and exhibitors to share best practices. Safety+ has become the conversion point that powers organizations to the next level of performance, and our goal is to elevate this through a focus on risk reduction strategies and initiatives.

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