COLUMBUS, Ohio –
As of May 5, Defense Logistics Agency Maritime Portsmouth has gone 14 months without a workplace injury.
“It is an all-hands effort,” DLA Maritime Portsmouth Deputy Director Thomas (Pat) Moore said of the ongoing milestone.
Moore said everyone has been working hard to create a safety culture where the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard-based detachment is able to go longer and longer between OSHA reportable incidents.
This record is a direct result of that.
Moore said the detachment’s OSHA reportable incident statistics have steadily improved overall in the last several years with an average of one to two a calendar year for 2018-2021, followed by one in early 2022 with zero reportable incidents since then.
“Before 2018, there were years where four or five were the norm,” he said.
OSHA defines reportable incidents as injuries or illnesses which result in days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job; any medical treatment beyond first aid; loss of consciousness or a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional.
DLA Maritime Portsmouth is unique in that it is an industrial warehousing facility in support of activities at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Naval Supply Systems Command, Moore said.
Those facilities include the Consolidated Global Warehouse that opened in 2021, plus operations in 10 other buildings spread throughout PNSY in Kittery, Maine.
“We are the one shipyard detachment that has the whole mission. We have supply, storage and distribution,” he said. “We run warehouses, drive forklifts, and handle various sizes of material, hazardous and non-hazardous all day every day.”
Moore credited the employee-led safety council for much of their recent success. The all-volunteer council, which has been in existence for several years, has representation from every work area and serves as both a sounding board for issues to bring up to management as well as a forum for ideas on ways to improve safety processes and communication throughout the detachment.
“It’s one thing to hear from your supervisor but it’s another to hear from your peers,” he said. “I think that it has a lot to do with the success we are having.”
One of those ideas which has had an impact on overall safety is the implementation of safety boards in all the work areas that have the number of days since the last incident and the current record number of days.
“I think just having that number in front of people makes a difference too,” Moore said. “It serves as motivation when people see it every day.”
The safety council identifies potential safety risks and hazards, reviews incidents and near misses, implements corrective measures to eliminate a recurrence, and implements employee awareness and outreach. Senior leadership is actively involved in the safety council’s activities as representatives regularly sit in at monthly council meetings and advise the group when necessary.
“We are continually strengthening a safety-minded culture through providing a platform for the workforce to voice their concerns and foster a cooperative environment between employees and management,” said Andi Rae Wentworth, inventory management specialist and chair of the Portsmouth Safety Council.
“That level of interaction encourages employees to get involved and motivates them to speak up about safety,” she added.
Active engagement is key to nurturing a strong safety culture, and the detachment’s safety program ensures employees at all levels are involved.
“Everyone is encouraged to get involved in safety. We take pride in setting an example for our co-workers by performing our jobs safely and speaking up about safety concerns as soon as we see them,” said Nicholas Harpin, supply specialist and vice chair of the Portsmouth Safety Council.
Going well over a year without a reportable incident increases the efficiency rate of DLA Maritime Portsmouth’s supply, storage and distribution processes which increases material availability to the PNSY and NAVSUP, ultimately getting warfighters what they need when they need it without delay.
“It’s all about raising awareness and keeping focus on [safety] every day,” Moore said.