Best-in-Class Safety Flag Will Fly at UMCB

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Hospital work can be surprisingly hazardous. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), University Medical Center Brackenridge (UMCB) is best-in-class in protecting associate safety and health. The hospital received the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star designation, their highest level of recognition for U.S. employers.

“I am proud to be associated with such a great team,” boasted Herb Dyer, vice president and chief operating officer at UMCB. “This accomplishment is only possible with the efforts of all our associates who contribute every day to make health care safe. Everyone did an incredible job—three years in the making.”

The VPP Star is awarded to a very small percentage of U.S. employers, placing the hospital alongside notable companies like General Electric, 3M and NASA. UMCB is one of only 15 acute care hospitals to achieve VPP Star recognition, and the first level-one trauma center to be accepted into the VPP program.

Traditionally, OSHA did not work closely with hospitals because the Joint Commission focused on the health care industry. Today, OSHA and the Joint Commission have formed an alliance and are collaborating to increase hospital safety, both for workers and patients.

Workers in the health care industry suffer more on-the-job injuries than almost any profession. More than construction or manufacturing – two industries traditionally thought to be dangerous. Statistical evidence for the VPP program is impressive. More than 50 percent of VPP locations experience lower rates of missed workdays. Since implementing high reliability behaviors and addressing safety concerns,UMCB’s illness and injury rate (IIR) is well below the industry average for acute care hospitals.

UMCB is not new to OSHA VPP. The hospital’s journey started several years ago when a group formed to address safety concerns at the hospital. UMCB prepared and participated in an audit in 2012 and received OSHA VPP Merit designation.

In the most recent audit, OSHA noted efforts to reduce workplace violence incidents and a more robust contractor management program as key to the hospital’s move from merit to star designation. Hospitals across the nation will benefit from the many lessons learned and process improvements made at UMCB. These best practices will also spread to sites across the Seton network.

“There were numerous folks who worked together to make this happen,” said Sally Pawsat, director of safety and emergency management, Seton Healthcare Family. “From our safety team to plant operations to clinicians and our site safety coaches, it took a village of people to cultivate the expectation that quality care starts with associate safety.”

OSHA will be in Austin next week to present a new OSHA VPP flag with the Star designation. All are welcome to attend the VPP Star Ceremony Monday, June 16 at 11:00 a.m. in the CEC Tranquility Garden. In case of rain, the VPP Star ceremony will take place in the CEC lobby.

Pictured at left is the VPP Star Worksite Flag. A similar flag will be presented to UMC Brackenridge to proudly display their OSHA VPP Star designation. Image courtesy of

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