Arsenal workforce hits one million man hour milestone
Arsenal production workers gather with members of the safety office and command staff to commemorate Pine Bluff Arsenal's recent achievement on obtaining one million man hours without a lost time injury.

Pine Bluff Arsenal's workforce achieved a large safety milestone as of January 2012. The workforce has worked a million man hours without a lost time injury.

To put it in simpler terms, Charlie Neel, chief of environmental for the Directorate of Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs, and acting director during much of fiscal year 2011, said that a million man hours means that someone has worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 114 years. "That is a full life time of no injuries that cause you to miss work," said Neel.

As of Jan. 25, workers have worked an estimated 1,106,527 hours without a lost time injury and it has been 180 days since the installation's last lost time injury, according to data from the Arsenal's Safety Division.

"We should acknowledge that a million man hours without an injury is a significant milestone," said Mark Lumpkin, director of RMRA. "This is an achievement that the Arsenal has never seen. It took approximately six months of time to get here."

Lumpkin said he gives credit to initiatives undertaken by PBA's management towards achieving the milestone. "These initiatives were working towards achieving the ISO 18001 (OHSAS 18001) safety standard and the efforts we made achieving the Voluntary Protection Program. Even though OSHA never came and validated our efforts, the work was there with VPP," he said.
OHSAS 18001 was one of the programs that Lumpkin said he wanted the safety office to personally achieve. "A lot was accomplished during the year I was gone. I knew we had a program," he said. "We didn't have long ways to go in achieving OHSAS 18001."

Lumpkin said that the culture of safety is more prevalent now than it ever has been on the Arsenal. "The whole point of tying the group award with safety was to achieve awareness. It is just one of many things we did in the safety arena," he said. "The colonel recognizes that our safety posture is much improved."

Neel said that management really stepped up to the plate and identified safety as important. "The weekly safety committee was reviewing all the paperwork. And now we have a nurse dedicated full time to looking at the safety cases," he said. "She can pick up the phone and call a supervisor and ask if a person could come back to work and tell them about the situation. This is done for each case now and the emphasis on that has helped."

The weekly safety statistics put out by the safety office and the ones publishes in The Arsenal Sentinel monthly have all contributed to better awareness, said Neel. "I also think there is a little bit of competition among the directorates too to not be that low man on the totem pole when it comes to safety. They all want everyone to be able to go home to their families," he said.

Linnie Wear, who works in the safety division and is one of the guys who actually goes out into the field and sees how safety initiatives trickle down to the shop floors, said that there has finally been a buy in by the employees. "The safety culture is finally settling into a mindset," he said. "The employees see the benefits of going home safely with all their body parts intact. Another factor is management has also bought into the concepts that the safety office has been presenting."

A pizza party, sponsored by the Civilian Welfare Fund, was held post-wide Jan. 31 for all employees in recognition of this achievement.

"We should appreciate this lunch," said Willie Johnson, production worker. "People are just being more cautious than they used to be. We try to help each other out on the lines. We watch out for each other."

Karen McNeely, production worker, said that everyone should abide by the rules all the time and not just accommodate for moment. "That helps the production workers be safer in their jobs," she said. "I have noticed that people are doing better -- picking up stuff off the floors, etc."

"I think it is good that the Arsenal is recognizing folks when they do a good job. I used to work on the production lines for about six years. When I came out here 10 years ago, people didn't wear safety goggles or ear protection because it wasn't required. We have come a long way," said Kelly Murphy, chemical engineer technician, who specifically works with the pyrotechnic mixes with Ammunition Operations. "We have changed a lot since then. People are more conscious of safety now and they are more attentive to things. Making the worker more aware of what is going on. The workers now ask questions and that is a good thing."
Roch Byrne, AO director, said that there wasn't just one thing that helped the workforce achieve this milestone. "I think it was a culmination of a lot of different things. It is more awareness and continuously trying to make improvements," he said. We reevaluate things all the time. I think all of it coming together along with a little bit of luck too helped us achieve this."
After the pizza party at AO, Col. Franz Amann gathered with some of the production workers for a photo and read the letter that Brig. Gen. Gustave Perna, Joint Munitions Command, had presented to him during a commander's conference recently. He said that he was very proud of the workforce's achievement. "This is not my award. This is your award," he said. "Keep up the hard work."

Page last updated Fri February 10th, 2012 at 00:00