With more than 1,200 employees and 700,000 square miles within its area of responsibility, the Omaha District spends a lot of time, money and effort on safety and occupational health throughout the Command, and it’s paying off dividends. For the 28th consecutive year, the Omaha District has been named one of the Nebraska Safety Council’s “Nebraska’s Safest Companies with Distinction”.
The safety award was presented to Lt. Col. James Startzell, Deputy District Commander, and representatives of the District’s safety team at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 15.
The NSC established the safety award to highlight organizations with successful safety programs throughout the state of Nebraska. The NSC’s mission is to promote safety and health by providing programs, resources, education and advocacy to reduce both the personal and economic loss associated with injuries, accidents, and health hazards. The NSC is a private nonprofit organization that partners with businesses, schools, law enforcement, firefighters, hospitals and Nebraska communities to provide education and training focused on keeping Nebraskans safe.
The Omaha District has an exemplary safety record that is more than 50% better than the national average compared to their industry classification, implemented comprehensive safety programs, and record of taking proactive steps to demonstrate a commitment to safety.
“Winning ‘Nebraska’s Safest Company Award’ clearly illustrates the District’s commitment to safety,” said Jeff Skrivanek, Omaha District’s Safety and Occupational Health Chief. “Without the support and dedication of employees on the front line, the effectiveness of integrating and implementing safety within that workplace or activity would not be achievable.”
The Omaha District continues to promote a culture of proactively identifying hazards, with the goal of increasing organizational safety and occupational health involvement. This ultimately ensures an effective and efficient accomplishment of the Omaha District’s multiple missions. The Omaha District will remain focused on continual improvement within the safety management system.
Skrivanek leads a small but strong team enforcing Omaha District safety standards. His team, including Skrivanek, often travels to the District’s various work sites, whether it may be one of the six hydroelectric dams along the Missouri River or the multiple constructions sites across the District’s footprint, for example.
“Part of our travel is to show those working on site the District’s priority on safety,” said Annette Fowler, District Safety Team Member. “The District’s safety team’s visits to the various locations shows a financial and time investment from the District and it also ensures employees do not take shortcuts with their safety.”
Safety is a broad idea that encompasses many responsibilities. The Safety office is responsible for everything from ensuring employees receive enough rest prior to operating heavy equipment, to training the District staff on proper lifting techniques to prevent injury, and even proper diving techniques for the District’s dive-certified personnel.
Living and working the safety lifestyle is not just a 9-5 job, either. Skrivanek and his team often begin work before daylight and work well past sunset.
“We want to visit sites prior to work beginning and after it is completed for the day to ensure all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted,” Skrivanek said. “We trust our District team members to always do the correct thing when it comes to safety but we want to verify to ease all doubts.”
The safety team does more than just inspections; the team jumps into action any time there is an accident on a Corps-managed site. Whether it is a vehicle rollover, a strained back due to improper lifting techniques or a tumble down the stairs due to poor balance, the safety team engages those involved to ensure the incident is documented, and that any lessons learned are shared across the District. Often, the safety team opens an investigation to look into the accident more closely, to discover the leading cause and to decide if it could have been prevented.
Safety and occupational health is a team effort that requires involvement at all levels throughout the District. The District’s senior leaders commend all employees that actively participate and support the District’s Safety and Occupational Health program.
“Everybody is accountable for safety,” said Skrivanek. “Our Omaha District team’s dedication to maintaining a safe and healthy environment shines through this safety award and truly highlights the District’s emphasis on employee care.”
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