West Michigan Air Care Receives Renewed MIOSHA Recognition of their Workplace Safety and Health Excellence

West Michigan Air Care (Air Care) of Kalamazoo recently received renewal of its MVPP Star Award, the state's highest workplace safety and health award, from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG).

"West Michigan Air Care is to be commended for its exemplary commitment to workplace safety and health. They have created a corporate culture where workplace safety and health is a top priority," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "This company has been a Michigan Star site since 2002 and recognizes that a safe workplace provides the foundation for the highest quality patient care."

MIOSHA established the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program (MVPP) program in 1996 to recognize employers actively working toward achieving excellence in workplace safety and health. Since 1999, Michigan has recognized 27 MVPP Star companies. This is the most prestigious safety and health award given in Michigan. The company first received Star approval on April 30, 2002, and was recertified on December 2, 2005.

West Michigan Air Care's incidence rates and lost work day rates are significantly below the industry average for their NAICS code 621910, Nonscheduled Air Transportation/Ambulance Services. Their total case incidence rate (TCIR) was 0.0 in 2005, 7.8 in 2006, and 0.0 in 2007 - compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) industry average of 11.0 in 2005 and 2006, and 7.4 in 2007. Their total day's away/restricted cases (DART) rate was 0.0 in 2005, 3.9 in 2006, and 0.0 in 2007 - compared to the BLS industry average of 6.3 in 2005 and 2006, and 3.1 in 2007. To date, their injury rate remains at zero.

Air Care, a critical-care air medical transport service, employs 28 workers and is considered a high-hazard operation. The MIOSHA review team consisted of Doug Kimmel, Team Leader and Safety Consultant; and Gregg Grubb, Industrial Hygienist. The team conducted three informal and three formal interviews. The operations remain essentially unchanged since the last reevaluation.

Air Care is committed to providing a safe environment for their patients and associates. They accomplish this by maintaining an active safety program. Air Care has an active safety committee comprised of associate's from each discipline within the company. Some of the responsibilities of the committee include training and education, research of new processes, auditing, and trend analysis.

Air Care utilizes a safety management system (SMS). This represents a process comprised of several key elements such as organizational commitment to safety, reporting and documentation, risk management and hazard correction, auditing and evaluation. Each of these components is a vital tool in the safe operation of this air medical transport company.

All employees are empowered to act on safety and health issues and are accountable for their performance. The company's decentralized management style puts substantial authority in employee's hands. The company has taken the extraordinary step of permitting any member of a flight crew to terminate a mission; a prerogative that is normally the pilot's alone. A significant change since their 2005 review is the addition of a comprehensive Risk Management Evaluation Process. Air Care actively utilizes this process for correction of defects as well as policy design. This system is based on the concept of probability versus severity. Reported issues are examined for system defects, controls are identified and implemented, and outcome is tracked through auditing and reported on a master list for review by administration. All policies are developed using the risk management process to identify hazards and implement controls prior to incorporation.

Extensive self-inspection procedures are in place, including the routine performance of hazard surveys and audits. Prevention and control of aviation hazards is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Aviation safety is the number one safety issue and receives the most attention and resources. Safety issues not related to aviation are well addressed by the company, including personal protective equipment to protect employees from bloodborne infectious diseases and TB.

West Michigan Air Care achieved accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS) in 1995. The company continues to obtain recertification every three years through strict adherence to CAMTS standards; as well as on-site survey credentialing. CAMTS accreditation represents the "Gold Standard" in air medical transport, and demonstrates their commitment to providing patients with the highest quality air medical care.

Air Care is a premier full service critical care transport system. In March 1993, they became the first hospital based consortium air medical program in the United States. As a cooperative program of Borgess Medical Center and Bronson Methodist Hospital, they afford the region an excellent combination of tertiary care expertise by offering a national model for transport of critically ill/injured patients.

From its base in Kalamazoo, Air Care's fully equipped helicopter is airborne and on its way within minutes of a request for service, delivering its critical care medical crew at an average speed of 175 miles per hour throughout the lower peninsula of Michigan and northwestern Ohio and Indiana. With 28 employees, its safe, quick, efficient service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their web address is: www.aircare.org.

Contact: Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280
Agency: Energy, Labor & Economic Growth