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Posted 8/29/2016

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By Randy Gon

When it comes to safety and occupational health the Sacramento District is second to none after being selected for the 2015 Chief of Engineers Safety Award,  recognizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district that best demonstrates a culture of safety, finding innovative solutions and achieving success in protecting lives and property.

“This award is the culmination of the entire District’s efforts,” said Shawn Curtis, chief of the Safety and Occupational Health Office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District. “It reflects a joint effort from everyone to enhance our safety and health culture both on the job and at home. It’s like taking care of your brothers and sisters, watching out for everyone on your left and your right.”   

From safety professionals assessing contractor performance at 31 project sites to ordnance explosive safety specialists supporting 22 Munition Response Sites at former military installations to park rangers helping to keep staff and visitors safe at 10 recreation areas, the Sacramento District has taken a no-nonsense approach when protecting the well-being of its people. 

Curtis credited district leadership’s support for initiatives such as the annual Safety Day in March. 

“We had [leadership] buy-in to take an entire day to focus on workplace safety and we were able to bring in quality facilitators.  Our leaders have put a high priority on safety and occupational health training throughout the year,” said Curtis.

The district also invested significant resources in purchasing ergonomic office furnishings and providing workers with state-of-the-art personal protective equipment.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration findings, every dollar invested in safety awareness can result in a reduction of  20 percent or greater in injury and illness rates and a return of $4 to $6.

Perhaps the biggest example of an emphasis on safety paying off can be found at the Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway project, a $900 million flood risk management mega-project.

The spillway’s DART - Days Away, Restricted, or job Transfer - rate, which represents lost time on a job site, is currently at .96. This means that there is less than one mishap for every 200,000 work hours. That’s well below the Corps-wide goal of 1.24.

Working closely with its two prime contractors, Granite Construction and Kiewit Construction, the Corps committed two full-time temporary safety specialists on-site to oversee highly hazardous work such as blasting, excavation and crane lifts.

“We have such a consistent communication and spirit of cooperation toward safety,” said Bryan Hinzman, safety and occupational health specialist for the project. “The level of cooperation we have with the contractors makes a big difference.”

Whether it’s working at a major construction project, implementing office occupant emergency plans, oversight at military training and test ranges or even fitness membership discounts for employees, a strong safety culture is clear. But the credit for preventing injuries and potentially saving lives belongs to the entire Sacramento District team.

The award will be presented at a later date. 

Corps of Engineers safety U.S. Army