ASSP member J.A. Rodriguez was recently elected chair of the VPPPA Inc. board of directors. In the role he will oversee the actions of the board of directors and protect the interests of the members of the association. Rodriguez will serve a 2-year term. He is a professional member of the Northern Virginia Chapter, the Consultants Practice Specialty, and the Hispanic Safety Professionals Common Interest Group.
We recently spoke with J.A. about his new role and how he believes his involvement with ASSP can spark collaboration.
SU: How will your OSH experience help your work in this role?
J.A.: I've always said that one can really never truly understand the challenges faced by someone like a lineman, pilot, construction worker, leader or any other professional unless at some point in your life you really become one. The same is true for an OSH professional. Having experienced and fulfilled the OSH needs of really complex organizations over the last few decades and through the fostering of sustainable business partnerships, I feel as though my OSH experience provides valuable insight into the needs of our VPPPA member organizations who are laser focused on safety management system excellence.
OSH professionals are risk ninjas. We seek, we find, we conquer. We slay dragons—the risk dragons. OSH experience nurtures risk management thinking, which drives innovation and continuous improvement, which drives higher competitive advantage, which drives market share. It’s no secret that those who drive market share become true partners. I believe my experience will help derive better solutions in helping VPPPA members continue to achieve safety management system excellence by design. In the same way OSH professionals deliver world-class solutions to the toughest challenges in the workplace, that's going to be my approach as chair of VPPPA.
SU: What are your goals while in this position?
J.A.: My three primary goals are simple. They are to be of service, to exceed VPPPA members’ expectations and to be of value at every opportunity. Our focus at VPPPA is on the 2022 strategic plan, which highlights four priorities. The first is to demonstrate value. The second is to grow strategic partnerships. The third is to enhance global presence. And the fourth is to be the resource for safety management system excellence. I think that focusing on these areas of service, exceeding expectations and providing value is going to be valuable for VPPPA’s membership going forward.
SU: In what ways do you envision ASSP and VPPPA collaborating?
J.A.: I cannot stop thinking about the ways that my beloved ASSP and VPPPA can collaborate. ASSP's primary focus is on the safety professional and the advancement of the safety profession. I've been living that for 25 years. VPPPA's primary focus is safety management system excellence and worker protection. There are, of course, areas of concentration that overlap, as both organizations share a common goal: injury and illness prevention for every worker everywhere. This inherently creates opportunities to collaborate and bring shared resources to address our challenges.
We had the honor of hosting the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, at our recent symposium, and he reported that the most recent data for more than 1,100 participants—employers representing nearly 400,000 employees—showed that compared with businesses and respective industries, the nonconstruction VPP participant rate was 50% below the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) rates for case incidents and 47% below the BLS rates for days away from work. Secretary Acosta also reported that VPP construction participants did even better. On the construction side, businesses were 65% below the BLS rates for case incidents and 73% below the national rate for days away from work.
Although incident rates alone do not provide a good measure of risk, VPP members have figured out how to implement and design effective safety management systems to limit risk and protect workers. ASSP members have figured out how to develop talent and leadership and deliver performance excellence in the profession. I believe that bringing these strengths together collaboratively can help eventually protect more lives.
SU: How will your background as an ASSP member benefit your work at VPPPA?
J.A.: After 25 years as an ASSP member I have come to really appreciate the power of community, the strength of collaboration and the force of will to really overcome the biggest of challenges. As chair of VPPPA, I bring that foundation to its membership. My ASSP family is very large. Everyone at ASSP now has a colleague in a leadership position at VPPPA where they can come exchange ideas and collaborate. It is an awesome and unique position to be in, and as an ASSP member for a long time, being able to leverage our collective network is where I think that my background will come in handy.
SU: Final thoughts?
J.A.: The honor I feel in being elected as chair of VPPPA is indescribable. In life, each of us is bestowed moments. What we do with them defines who we are and the constructive influence we have on others. The secret is to capture these impactful moments and unleash them for positive change. Henry David Thoreau said, "The price of anything is the amount of life you pay for it." That's pretty powerful. I believe ASSP and VPPPA can capture more than one impactful moment, more than one positive change, for the protection of every worker everywhere.