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DIRECTORS WHO GET IT - Safety office recognizes DOL director for attention to safety in workplace

By Unknown | USAG | July 02, 2013

Story by: Dawn J. Douglas, GARRISON SAFETY OFFICE

To have an effective safety and health program, leaders must be fully engaged and be actively involved to communicate their care and concern for the well-being of their employees.

In the quarterly feature, "Directors Who 'Get It,'" the Garrison Safety Office highlights directorate managers who work to enhance safety excellence, which has led to a strong safety culture and contributed to the reduction of accidents in their organization.

To recognize a leader who truly "gets it" is the highest honor and speaks to his or her commitment to safety, engaging employees in safety at all levels and encouraging employees to take their safety knowledge home.

The Garrison Safety Office is proud to introduce this quarter's "Director Who Gets It:" Larry Githerman, Director of Logistics. Githerman makes it a priority to highlight safety milestones throughout his facilities and attributes the success of his directorate's safety program to all of the employees working at his facilities who promote safety as a way of life. Githerman describes his approach to safety in a recent interview.

"Why is safety a core value in your organization?"

Nothing is more important than workforce protection from injury and work-related illness. Every employee and contractor deserves to come to a safe and healthy work environment each day. We owe it to them, their Families and our customers who visit our facilities.

"What have you done to improve your safety program?"

We participate in garrison and division safety program and events.

And, we consult often with the Garrison Safety Office for assistance and outside evaluation of safety issues and recommended corrective action. Garrison Safety Office staff members attend our quarterly safety meeting and have made several presentations to our workforce.

Our safety program depends on every individual to do their part. Leader involvement at all levels is a must. A safety officer has been appointed for each of our facilities, and the director serves as the safety officer for the directorate. We strive to provide our people resources and training, and empower them to step and take corrective action when needed. Supervisors make safety a consistent topic of discussion in the workplace and do safety checks. Composite Risk Management is conducted for operations posing risk and reviewed at the directorate level. If the risk cannot be mitigated at the directorate level, we address the issues with the garrison commander or senior commander before proceeding with a mission.

We have systems in place to ensure proper training and licensing on equipment, and maintenance of equipment. All accident reports are reviewed at the division level and passed to the directorate level for review and approval, before submission to the Garrison Safety Office. In some instances, we have used safety personnel from one division to conduct the accident investigation for another division to get an outside perspective. Then, we share findings in the directorate.

Since we have many contractors, we provide oversight of their operations with our quality assurance evaluators and include them in safety inspections conducted by the installation. As with our employees, we review all their accident reports prior to submission to the Garrison Safety Office.

"How do you reward and recognize people who help prevent accidents?"

Since we are limited in monetary awards, we have recognized individuals in a directorate town hall setting with a certificate or a garrison commander's coin. We try to hold these folks up as an example of what makes our safety program a success. Peer recognition is a good motivator. Our contractors have internal incentive programs to reward sections with the best safety records over periods of time. These range from monetary awards to lunch provided by the corporate headquarters.

"How do you instill the importance of safety in the minds of your subordinates?"

We try to bring it home that accidents are not statistics. They are serious and sometimes tragic. The impacts are lasting and can be life changing events for all involved. The person injured, his or her Family, coworkers, supervisor and an entire organization can be impacted – some certainly more than others.

While we may have a good safety program, it can all be wiped out if we let our guard down. We discuss safety at every partnership meeting with our contractors and solicit their input on areas that can be improved in order to make the work place safer. We also invest capital resources in providing the correct/properly functioning tools and equipment that allow operations to be conducted safely.

"What are some examples of Composite Risk Management you believe have prevented accidents in your organization?"

CRM is used extensively for movement of equipment and personnel on and off the installation by ground, air and rail. We travel to and operate at multiple airfields, including Forbes Field, Manhattan and Kansas City International airports. We conduct heavy rail operations and line-haul operations under adverse weather conditions. By having a good system of identification and mitigation, we have been able to react to changing weather conditions, time tables and overlapping mission requirements, without serious injury to our personnel or customers.

Do you think your commander or director "Gets It?" If so, call 785-240-0647 or email dawn.j.douglas.civ@mail.mil.

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