MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
These days, when Bob Dockery walks from his office to his car on dark evenings, he feels much safer than he did not much more than a year ago.
Back then, Dockery was concerned about the dangers posed by poor lighting in the parking area of building 159 at the air station. He believed some drivers need all the help they can get when they are behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
“You’d be walking through the parking lot early in the morning with no light,” said Dockery, a supply systems analyst with station supply aboard the air station. “Could somebody be hurt because of these unlit parking lots? The answer is yes – yes someone could get hurt.”
Dockery knew that change doesn’t usually happen overnight. But he took advantage of a relatively new tool in the workman's belt here on MCAS Cherry Point – the Voluntary Protection Program – to help move things along. The VPP gave him the power and motivation to shed some light on a safety hazard that was well within the command's ability to improve.
His idea was simple: install better lighting in the parking lot so drivers could more easily see pedestrians. Step 1: write your suggestion on a dry-erase board strategically positioned in a heavy foot-trafficked area in the building. Step 2: sit back and watch the program work.
“Over twenty people were involved in some aspect to see the plan to completion,” explained Dockery.
“Before VPP was here, some people used to be worried about repercussions if they said something,” said Dockery. “Now, if you see a problem, you can identify it, write it on the board or go to your VPP representative without issue.”
A common frustration when attempting to fix a safety issue before VPP was the uncertainty of where requests were in the process, but with VPP, fixes are clearly documented from start to finish and are consistently updated, explained Dockery
VPP has been around for decades in the business world, but it has only been established here at Cherry Point since January 2015. In a nutshell, VPP is designed to give every individual the opportunity to contribute to their own safety, and the safety of others around them. The dry-erase "white board" is an amazingly simple way for anybody to raise their hand and identify a safety issue that needs to be addressed.
“The most important resource here at Cherry Point is undoubtedly the military and civilian workforce,” said Cmdr. Amy Varney, the installation safety manager. “Therefore, it is critical to preserve the workforce to the fullest extent possible; everyone deserves to go home in the same shape or better than they came in to work.”
As for Dockery feeling a bit safer ... well, that comes from knowing that his command takes these kinds of suggestions seriously, proving that it places a high priority on personnel safety.
“We avoided a potential injury thanks to VPP fostering a culture of safety,” said Dockery. “The biggest thing is that it’s not just one person – it’s a team effort. We all have a say in our own safety.”