WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (April 17, 2014) -- The Watervliet Arsenal announced today that it was named the winner of the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff Safety Award for Industrial Operations for fiscal year 2013.

This is the third time in four years, and two years in a row, the arsenal has been recognized by the Army's senior leaders for its exceptional safety program and record.

Arsenal Commander Col. Lee H. Schiller Jr. said that even in an inherently dangerous business that involves precision machining, metal fabrication, welding, forging, and heat treatment, manufacturing can be done safely.

Considering that there are more than 1,200 people who drive in and out the arsenal gate every day; more than 600 machines that grind, drill, heat, and mill; and that arsenal manufacturing takes place in one of the harshest climates in the country, this is a significant achievement, Schiller said.

Matthew Church, the arsenal's safety manager, said the key to last year's success was that employees and leaders throughout the arsenal took on more responsibility for safety as individuals and as part of a team.

"We vigorously attacked all safety-related issues that may have led to an injury, death, or loss of equipment," Church said. "And when there was a safety-related incident, we aggressively conducted accident investigations within 24 hours of the occurrence so that lessons were quickly captured and communicated to the workforce."

Church said that some of the arsenal safety achievements in 2013 that led to the award are:

- No fatalities

- A lost time rate that was 20 percent lower than the goal established by the arsenal's higher headquarters, the Army Materiel Command, and 81 percent lower than industry standards.

- No employee was placed on long-term disability. In fact, since 2003, no employee has been placed on long-term disability.

- The Arsenal also showed improvements and innovations in safety compliance programs, such as OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program.

"This is an energized workforce who actively participates in several safety programs, as well as who readily recommend initiatives to make the workplace safer," Church said. "Although this accomplishment is a great honor, we are not yet done ensuring that our workforce has the most safe and productive work environment available."

According to Department of the Army Pamphlet 385-10, Army Safety Program, both individuals and units must have made significant improvements and contributions to accident prevention efforts, among other criteria, to be considered for an award. Nominations are submitted for actions taken during the preceding fiscal year.

The award will be provided to the arsenal by its higher headquarters in a future ceremony.

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The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812. It celebrated its 200th anniversary in July 2013.

Today's arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.

Page last updated Thu April 17th, 2014 at 00:00