Story by Alexandria Soller on 05/29/2019Tobyhanna Army Depot's ability to adapt its safety program to meet new international standards earned accolades from inspectors, who recently certified the organization's transition from the (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series) OHSAS 18001 to the (International Organization for Standardization) ISO 45001 certification.
Continuous improvement of safety measures is a key initiative of the Invest in Our People line of effort for the depot's strategic plan.
The certification, the first of its kind presented to a Defense Department organization, is the result of a safety audit completed on May 10th with zero non-conformances identified. Team Tobyhanna also completed successful quality and environmental audits within the two week time-frame.
While the depot strives to excel in all three of these programs, reaching the depot's goal of being the first Department of Defense organization to achieve ISO 45001 certification emphasizes the efforts their workforce has invested.
"Accomplishments of this magnitude affirm not only the work our team puts in, but the entire workforce's efforts," said Noah Stagliano, Health Physicist of the depot's Safety & Occupational Health Office and leader of the certification transition team.
In July 2018, an auditor foreshadowed the accomplishment, commenting that Tobyhanna was well on its way toward the organization's goal of upgrading to the new, more stringent standards of the ISO 45001 certification.
This safety standard still follows routine guidelines, but is recognized internationally--allowing for universal measurements of the organization's effectiveness.
The perspective of Tobyhanna was also broadened to identify all internal and external safety factors that could possibly affect, or be affected by, the organization's activities. This includes the consideration of workforce safety at Tobyhanna forward locations and the safety of surrounding communities. Broadening the perimeter of consideration will allow Team Tobyhanna to identify significant risks and opportunities to plan for a safer future.
Emphasis of responsibility will be put on leaders, who must be engaged, rather than delegating down through the organization.
The consultation and participation of all levels of the workforce, including contractors, is also vital to the new standards. The additional emphasis on workforce participation will promote a holistic approach to safety, making a great difference in incident investigations, risk assessment and internal auditing.
Increased vigilance by the workforce has resulted in an increase of near miss reports. Employees can report near-miss events to the safety corner on the depot's intranet homepage. All reports and responses for this program are posted weekly to highlight progress being made, as well as prevent similar occurrences in the future.
"Safety begins with the individual," said Jim Wisnewski, chief of the Safety and Occupational Health Office, "Even with the newly awarded certification, it is always important to keep the basics in mind."
Wisnewski stressed the importance of reporting all hazards and unsafe conditions in a timely manner. Supervisors are being asked to set an example to ensure safety policies are executed to the greatest extent.
All depot employees are also empowered to take full advantage of the Red Card Program, which calls for all dangerous activities to cease until further investigation and correction.
As the commander's policy states, "While our mission is critical to support Warfighter Readiness, it must not be at the expense of injuries to our personnel."