Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services sets new standards with virtual safety summit

By Jeff Landenberger DLA Disposition Services

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Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services held a virtual Material Handling Equipment Safety Summit in November.

Due to travel restrictions put in place by the Defense Department to help combat the pandemic, the annual material handling event was held online for the first time.

Event organizer Christopher Milazzo is new to the position of MHE training and licensing programing manager.

He said past summits held in person restricted how many people could attend due to funding limitations.

A man with a hard hat sit in the cab of a yellow piece of material handling equipment.
Lou Espanto recently took part in the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services first ever virtual Material Handling Equipment Safety Summit.
A man with a hard hat sit in the cab of a yellow piece of material handling equipment.
Lou Espanto
Lou Espanto recently took part in the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services first ever virtual Material Handling Equipment Safety Summit.
Photo By: DLA Disposition Services
VIRIN: 201013-D-AA987-069
A silver lining to this year’s travel challenges was Milazzo’s ability to open participation to all of the command’s Instructor/Certifying Officials, more commonly called MHE instructors, for the command no matter where they were stationed on the planet.

“The biggest hurdle was not only delivering a virtual event, but preparing it in a virtual world,” Milazzo said. The effort included people from the Battle Creek headquarters as well as representatives from the regional directorates.

“With the current environment, we had to make several adjustments to deliver this event to everybody.”

The summit included eight topics, including MHE procurement, MHE licensing, and MHE preventive maintenance.  

One topic, “General Housekeeping for the MHE and Warehouse,” was presented by Darren Hengemuhle, an agency occupational safety and health specialist. Hengemuhle presented from his duty station in Fort Riley, Kansas.

He said while this was his second MHE Safety Summit, it was the first time he presented a topic.

“It would have been nice to travel to Battle Creek,  but it was a lot cheaper for the government to do it virtually, and, right now, safer,” he said.
 

"We had some technical issues, but we worked through them and got the word out.” 

This was also the second MHE Safety Summit for Lou Espanto, a MHE operator at Pearl Harbor.

“The good thing about having a virtual summit is not having to fly and deal with the long flight from Hawaii, and trying to make the connecting flights en route to Kalamazoo,” Espanto said.

He then added, “I miss meeting up with fellow ICOs and guys that I trained with. Being in person gives me a sense of camaraderie with other ICOs. I also miss experiencing the fall/winter weather, being from Hawaii.”

Looking forward to next year, Milazzo said if travel restrictions are lifted he can see them incorporating some of the lessons learned this year and offering a hybrid event, where some people come to Battle Creek to participate while others in the field take advantage of the virtual option.

Milazzo said the most important goal of the safety summit is that workplace safety is improved, “So, in the end, everyone, employees, co-workers, customers – all go home healthy to their friends and family at the end of each day.”