New campaign promotes employee safety as priority

By Dianne Ryder

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Defense Logistics Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams often refers to people as indispensable to the agency’s success. “Taking care of people should guide our actions every day,” Williams wrote in a recent memo about summer safety. 

On June 2, DLA will kick off its All-Season Safety Campaign to help employees recognize and anticipate seasonal safety and health risks through training, posters and social media messaging. The goal is to raise employee awareness of the importance of safety at work, at home and while traveling.

In 2017, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, DLA experienced 227 workplace mishaps serious enough for employees to seek medical treatment. Some of these accidents placed employees on restricted duty or caused them to missed work entirely, as well as affected their personal lives.

Jerry Waibel, occupational safety and health manager for DLA, said Williams proposed the campaign during a Health of the Agency briefing. He said the director’s intent is to establish a robust safety and occupational health program across the agency.

Waibel said that while there are “pockets of excellence” among the major subordinate commands’ safety training, it’s not as leader-driven as Williams would like.

“His view is that if we train people for the risk management process [at work], a lot of those skill sets transfer off-duty. Therefore, people are safer, and they’ll come back to work after the holidays,” Waibel said.

The campaign’s goal is to provide leaders, supervisors and employees with safety resources to address each season’s hazards. Waibel said the initiative is reminiscent of the Army’s ‘101 days of summer’ campaign, but the summer kickoff is just the beginning of promoting safe habits as second nature.

“The ‘how’ and the theme of it is all-season safety — how we’re modernizing our program to focus on leaders’ engagement,” he said. Waibel and his team plan to accomplish this through three lines of effort: reporting and investigation of mishaps, workplace inspections and hazard management, and training/awareness.

Waibel’s team includes Susan Jervis, occupational safety and health deputy director; Jade Spurgeon, M.D., physician and occupational health program manager; and Anna Lyons, safety and health program manager.

Lyons will spearhead the campaign, providing DLA leaders information on various safety topics that they can then brief to their employees.

“Each month, there will be different information available to them on eWorkplace, [DLA’s] public page, as well as DLA Today, Facebook pages and blogs,” she said. “Some topics will be work-related; some will be off-duty- and [recreation]-related.”

The Department of Defense has set the goal of zero for noncombat mishaps. Spurgeon said her primary role will be to ensure adherence to occupational health policies in order to meet that goal.

“My job is to be cognizant of all the things that are required by federal law and DoD and making sure that we’re compliant and making our people safe.” Spurgeon said she’s always reminded of the phrase, “Safety is no accident.”

Waibel hopes with enough repetition of the message, employees will understand the importance of the safety and occupational health role.

“We’re trying to bring ourselves to the forefront of real program management. [It’s] not just something we do; we’re a real agency program that’s mandated by federal law.”

All-season safety information is available on the DLA Safety eWorkplace page. This link requires a DLA Common Access Card to view.