Sundt Team at San Diego International Airport Earns Top Status for Safety

Our team at the SDIA Airport Support Facilities (ASF) project recently received the Cal/OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) construction designation. This makes Sundt one of only seven companies and the SDIA-ASF site one of 11 projects in all of California to achieve VPP status. Reaching this milestone has taken significant effort from Sundt’s project team as well as our primary subcontractors.

Field Engineer Jackie Odom installs concrete temperature sensors in the walls of underground stormwater containment cistern, harnessed to 35 foot wall
Sundt Field Engineer Jackie Odom installs concrete temperature sensors in the walls of the 3.2-million-gallon underground stormwater containment cistern at San Diego International Airport

The VPP designation was created for contractors who truly walk the talk with their commitment to safety, and it serves as a key differentiator within the industry. Sundt and our primary subcontractor teams were required to:

• Demonstrate an active management commitment and active employee involvement in our safety and health management system
• Show that we maintain our safety and health management systems oversight and control at our worksites
• Prove that our systems are effective in reducing accidents and injuries

new cal/OSHA VPP Status plaque with blue plastic wrap
Sundt SDIA Airport Support Facilities Project Team’s VPP Status plaque, fresh out of the box

Our project team and primary subcontractors each took part in a thorough review of each company’s IIPP, or Injury and Illness Prevention Program. From here, members of Sundt and subcontractor management teams participated in two-hour interviews with the Cal/OSHA consultation team to verify our knowledge of the program and its application on this project. During the subsequent site inspection for each trade, consultants selected craft workers at random and interviewed them privately to verify their knowledge and participation in the safety program.

airport Facilities Management Department warehouse space
The two-year, $150 million progressive design-build project at SDIA is comprised of four buildings including the Facilities Management Department (FMD) campus, which houses maintenance shops and warehouse spaces (shown here), and the underground stormwater containment cistern, spread out over three separate sites across the airport.

“People hear ‘OSHA,’ and they think ‘enforcement,'” said Sundt Building Group Health, Safety, & Environment Manager Paul Sprecco. “But OSHA also has a whole other side that does consultation. Their consultants serve as coaches, rather than ‘referees.’ When people realize this, it changes their approach. Six of our subcontractors earned Golden Gate status.” The Golden Gate program gives small businesses the opportunity to work as partners with labor and Cal/OSHA in implementing and maintaining high standards of workplace safety and health management. “By receiving and implementing feedback, these firms have taken their safety programs to the next level,” said Paul.

The six elements of the Cal/VPP interview are:
• Management Commitment
• Employee Involvement
• Worksite Analysis
• Hazard Prevention & Control
• Health and Safety Training
• Continuous Improvement

The dining area inside the new Facilities Management Department (FMD) campus
The dining area inside the new Facilities Management Department (FMD) campus

In addition to setting us apart as workplace safety and health leaders, the VPP program offers additional opportunities for recognition at up to three of our sites throughout California. “Inviting Cal/OSHA to partner with us on other projects strengthens our relationships across the state. It also helps us continue our growth as a builder,” said Ryan Nessen, Vice President for Sundt’s Building Group, San Diego Region. “All in all, the VPP program aligns very well with our culture. It was a very positive experience and definitely worth the effort.” A big thanks goes out to our SDIA-ASF team and trade partners for their extraordinary work.