PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District was recently recognized with the North Atlantic Division Commanding General's Safety Award of Excellence and the Chief of Engineers Award of Honor for its ongoing commitment to a safe and healthy work environment.
USACE North Atlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. William (Butch) H. Graham stated that the District “has established a culture where each person performs tasks that demonstrate they actively care for their safety and those they work with on a daily basis.”
Graham also noted that outstanding leadership and employee engagement have been the cornerstones of the District’s Safety Program and helped to reduce civilian accidents by 58 percent, contractor accidents by 10 percent and property damage by 50 percent in fiscal year 2016.
Greg DiPuppo leads the Philadelphia District’s Safety Office and noted that his office is always looking for ways to improve and spread the message that every injury is preventable.
“I am proud to say that the dedication to reducing accidents and injuries is just another example of what kind of team we have here in Philadelphia,” said DiPuppo. “This milestone exemplifies the leadership and commitment that every team member exhibits. This type of award would not be possible without everyone consistently working towards our goals.”
In early 2016, the Safety Office mapped out a plan with goals including: improving communication about safety issues both internally and externally; providing relevant and valuable training that exceeds requirements; better integrating safety into the project management process; and increasing safety inspection frequency.
The Safety Office conducted nearly 60 official inspections of District projects, which include river and coastal dredging; coastal restoration; environmental remediation; military construction and several other mission areas. The official inspections are just one aspect of the overall program as they remain involved in many other capacities.
“The inspections alone don’t make for a safe workplace,” said DiPuppo. “After an inspection, we outline viable solutions to unsafe conditions and that’s where each project employee steps in to ensure sound corrective measures are implemented. This is where the Philadelphia District shines.”
DiPuppo said the evaluations increase awareness about safety issues, but they also provide a platform for employees to voice concerns and establish a dialogue with the rest of the team.
This sort of communication has been a cornerstone of the Safety Program. The Safety Office initially sought to establish a Safety Council, but instead opted to modify the traditional format and have multiple meetings with different stakeholder groups. This has allowed conversations to stay specialized and relevant.
Training has been another key component of the District’s Safety Program. The office conducted three separate Occupational Safety and Health Administration 30-hour construction courses for 55 employees from the Engineering and Construction Division. Additional training programs conducted for District employees included Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response; Confined Space Training; Load Handling and Rigger Programs; and First Aid/Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation /Automated External Defibrillator . The Safety Office has sought to identify gaps in training depending on employee roles and responsibilities.
“I am pleased with the progress the District has made prioritizing and enforcing safety. We only look to keep moving our initiatives forward,” said DiPuppo.