USAMMDA Earns US Army Safety Star
Many of us are familiar with the tagline, "Safety is Job One," and throughout the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, this mantra remains paramount to the success of the USAMMDA team in its mission to develop and deliver quality medical capabilities to protect, treat and sustain the health of Service Members worldwide. In recognition of its outstanding efforts, USAMMDA was presented with the U.S. Army's Safety and Occupational Health Star Award during a ceremony at Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland, Feb. 7.
As one of only 29 Army-wide organizations – and the first Army Medical Command unit at Fort Detrick – to receive the Army Safety Health Management System's "Safety Star" award, USAMMDA has reduced incidents to zero while creating an overwhelming attitude of safety since being named a "Star Site" on July 30, 2015. This fact gains even more weight in light of USAMMDA's unique workplace environment, which includes both traditional office space and a separate development laboratory that houses high-tech machinery, explosives and combustible material used in the fabrication of critical prototype products for the Department of Defense.
On behalf of Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West, U.S. Army Surgeon General and commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command, the Safety Star award and flag were presented to USAMMDA commander Col. William E. Geesey by Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb, commanding general of USAMRMC and Fort Detrick.
"I'm pleased to present USAMMDA with this award today, because it is important that we take time to recognize those who have been heavily engaged in helping to accomplish the mission," said Holcomb. "It's a sign of teamwork, and an even greater sign of dedication to safety and quality – it is a testament to the focus of the team to help ensure we're abiding by the safety principles and incorporating them into our daily lives."
The ASHMS program was adopted from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Programs, which utilizes an extensive process of 243 tasks divided into three separate phases that must be completed within a three-year period. The program was established in 1982 to recognize workplaces that go above and beyond the basic compliance standards by employing a highly effective safety and health management system. This system demonstrates a cooperative and proactive safety partnership of management, labor and regulatory agencies. Workplaces that receive award recognition are identified as Star Sites, which indicates that they are leaders in safety and health throughout industry and across communities.
As the commander of USAMMDA, Geesey appeared very proud of his team during the presentation, and afterwards he commented on their careful attention to organizational safety over the past 18 months.
"This award recognizes a tremendous accomplishment by many people over the last year and a half," he said. "Until you go through a process like this, you don't realize the true impact safety has on an organization like USAMMDA, where our primary focus is on helping our nation's Warfighters get what they need, when they need it. This is a great team!"
USAMMDA's Collateral Duty Safety Officer, Marvin Saunders, played a key role in securing the Safety Star award for the organization, serving as point-of-contact for numerous formal inspections, staff assistance visits, walk-through surveys, and risk management consultations. Saunders certainly understands the importance of strict adherence to command safety policies in order to achieve mission success.
Said Saunders, "The ASHMS program is designed to reduce accidents and lost time, improve productivity and reduce worker-compensation costs by building a safety-conscious culture in the workplace through the execution of effective safety practices and procedures."
Currently, USAMMDA maintains nearly 100 percent compliance with safety course training and safety training that includes risk management instruction. Each new employee that starts with USAMMDA must complete a safety briefing upon commencement of duties with the command. The comprehensive safety program managed by USAMMDA leadership has helped the organization to obtain outstanding accident prevention metrics over the past two years since being named a Star Site.
Holcomb was quick to recognize this exceptional achievement.
"It's one thing to receive this prestigious award for safety, but it's another thing to actually sustain it – and you've demonstrated over the past 18 months that you have been able to sustain it," said Holcomb. "Kudos to your entire team for this great accomplishment!"
While the Safety Star award is given in recognition of an entire organization, three USAMMDA staff members were identified for their contributions during the final evaluation, and these individuals were presented with the Commanding General's coin by Holcomb.
As USAMMDA's Safety Officer, Saunders was recognized by Holcomb for his "meticulous efforts... [that] will have a lasting effect at USAMMDA through an emphasis on safety and a disciplined approach to managing risks in the work environment." Holcomb also lauded Saunders for his extreme diligence to the effort, which was "professional and comprehensive."
Also receiving a coin was Mark Brown, supervisor of USAMMDA's Medical Prototype Development Laboratory, who was commended for his strict oversight of the advanced machine shop, which involved ensuring that guards, tag-outs and safety signage were present in accordance with regulations. Brown was also credited in helping to quickly rectify negligible safety deficiencies after an ASHMS inspection, which resulted in eight "Star Points" for the USAMMDA program.
Willie Jenkins, USAMMDA Property Book Officer, was the third to receive a coin from Holcomb, who praised Jenkins for his "tirelessness and perseverance in carrying out the daily building management as well as his assigned duties" during ASHMS' safety monitoring and inspection. The commanding general cited Jenkins' efforts as creating "an overall professional impression of the USAMMDA team... [that] resulted in a positive and successful outcome for the inspection."
Although the above individuals were singled-out for their particular contributions, the concept of organizational safety begins and ends with the entire team, and Saunders was quick to echo this sentiment.
"USAMMDA's success in receiving Star Status was a direct result of having an effective Safety Committee with the dedication of its members," said Saunders. "Also, making sure that every team member is involved in this program allows all personnel the opportunity to assume the role of safety officer. Successful organizations have achieved true engagement by having every employee involved."
Without question, the outstanding efforts of the USAMMDA team to ensure safety throughout the organization will be realized by many for years to come. However, as the premier developer of world-class military medical capabilities, USAMMDA takes great care in everything it does, so it's not very surprising that the command has completed all tasks successfully to earn ASHMS Star Status.
No, it's not surprising at all.