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Posted 9/14/2015

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By Randy Gon

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has a rising star on its hands.

Melanie Prescott, an industrial hygienist for the Sacramento District, will be honored as a Rising Star of Safety by the National Safety Council during their annual Congress from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2 in Atlanta.

More than 115 nominations were submitted to the National Safety Council for consideration. From those, 40 young professionals under the age of 40 were selected to represent the 2015 class and are featured in the council’s September issue of Safety+Health magazine.

The citation for Prescott’s nomination says she piloted the restructuring of the District’s medical surveillance program, replacing an outdated survey method with a modern record-keeping system with data straight from one-on-one interactions. Over a six month period, Prescott met and monitored employees throughout the region to improve medical surveillance, assess potentially harmful working conditions and foster a safe workplace environment.

Prescott, who also spearheaded other district initiatives like walking club and fitness-related brown bag seminars, is the first Corps inductee recognized with the honor.

From correcting body mechanics and posture of the sedentary desk jockey to helping park rangers cope with constant exposure to outside elements, Prescott’s promotion of a safety culture has increased workforce performance across a wide range of individuals and is a real return on investment for the district, according to Shawn Curtis, safety chief for the Sacramento District.

“I enjoy the personal interactions I have with every single one of my teammates to help eliminate hazards to our employees while they’re working,” said Prescott.

A database was created to help track results and identify potential issues, which wasn’t done previously, by monitoring trends after conducting an initial baseline assessment.

“Most of the monitoring I’ve done has been with workers near loud noises,” says Prescott. “Early detection is key because it’s the first sign of an illness getting worse. Correcting issues today can reduce aches and pain later in life.”

The program is still evolving, but the proactive approach allows Prescott and the Safety Office to continue to assess work conditions to help recommend best practices for the district.   

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