Employees participate in ISO 14001
April 21, 2009
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -Did you know that the depot has been awarded over 35 environmental awards since 1990, and is recognized as a leader in environmental stewardship'
Ask any employee in the Environmental Management Division and they will tell you that the depot has accomplished these feats through an environmental program that adheres to international standards. "It's not real complicated," explains Phil Winowich, when describing the depot's ISO 14001:2004 process. The key is greater employee involvement, he adds. Winowich is an environmental protection specialist in the Environmental Management Division (EMD).
The process, which is a series of international standards, provides organizations with a uniform, systematic approach to environmental management.
The depot has always had a strong environmental program, but not all installations were doing as well, notes Winowich. Executive Order 13148, which requires an Environmental Management System (EMS), was introduced to ensure that all services implemented a successful environmental program in appropriate federal facilities. Army personnel chose the ISO 14001 as its EMS for organizations.
"The ISO system is geared toward environmental involvement," he says. In the past, the environmental program was managed by EMD personnel and only a few employees from each shop were involved. Now all employees participate in ISO processes, which encourages employee input and communication, he explains, adding that "all employees are involved in identifying how their processes affect the environment and how to better them to benefit the environment."
"It has worked well for us," notes Winowich, who has been involved in the ISO 14001 process since it was implemented at the depot in 2003. "We've received a lot of cooperation, and employees participate more and provide feedback. We get great ideas from the shops."
Suggestions include collection containers for solder, quick turn lids for waste paint and recommendations for less hazardous materials, Winowich notes, adding that one shop is implementing reusable compressed air containers, which will replace canned air.
Rick Shuleski, chief of the Resource Management Directorate, notes that "more employees are aware and engaged these days." He attributes this awareness to Corporate Philosophy communication processes and employees' involvement in the ISO 14001 program.
Winowich encourages employees to contact him and other EMD personnel if they have ISO 14001 questions and concerns about their area's processes because "we're here to help you with your process and help you to do a better job."
EMD personnel plan to implement a sustainability process, which allows employees to continue their work and minimize damage to the environment. Winowich notes that they're not there yet, but that's where the ISO program is going.
Brad Jones, chief of the Productivity, Improvement and Innovation Directorate says that the ISO audits help ensure sustainment, and notes that "the real key is when employees want to sustain the new processes."
ISO processes enable such sustainment, with Winowich noting that the depot has saved money prior to ISO 14001, through such initiatives as strong recycling and pollution prevention programs.
"Our [personnel] were out there weekly inspecting areas and improving processes," he says, explaining that "we didn't really add anything that would show major cost savings, but we're continuously improving the process."
Improvements include preventative actions, which are actions that might violate the ISO 14000 standards, and corrective actions, activities that violate the standards and need to be fixed.
"Corrective action allows [EMD personnel] to take information and share it with others who have the same potential environmental issues, to help avoid those same mistakes."
Four objective and target teams were also developed. Each team consists of EMD personnel, production engineers and employees from the area of focus, and employees from unrelated areas. "We've found that the people from unrelated areas help quite a bit and are the ones who ask the questions that are overlooked by people directly involved."
"With all new processes the most important thing is to work closely with the employees who will use the new process, and to ensure they understand the intent and benefits, have a say in how it's implemented, and have good information on how to correctly perform the process," Jones adds.
The depot is third-party certified, which is the highest certification. An audit is performed twice a year and the depot receives recertification every three years.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the largest full-service Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) maintenance and logistics support facility in the Department of Defense. Employees repair, overhaul and fabricate electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network.
Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces. The depot is the Army Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for Communications-Electronics, Avionics, and Missile Guidance and Control Systems and the Air Force Technology Repair Center (TRC) for ground communications and electronics.
About 5,700 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command.
Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control, computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.