WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- When an Arsenal shuts down its wartime operations this is usually big news. Reports should be immediately sent to higher headquarters alerting Army senior leaders that there is a significant problem that may affect the critical resourcing of our troops. No reports went out this week when the Watervliet Arsenal shutdown its operations for four hours, but that doesn't mean that this shutdown was not significant, because it was.

The Arsenal turned off its machines, computers, and office lights June 12 to take a step back and re-look workplace safety.

Now, why is that important?

The Arsenal is manned at the minimum level to achieve its mission, which means there is simply no fat or excess in manning, said Anthony Urban, an Arsenal resource manager.

"Every loss, be it for an hour or for a week, may affect the Arsenal's ability to provide military hardware to the warfighter where and when needed," Urban said.

So, this was an investment, if you will, for the Arsenal to stop its manufacturing for a few hours to retrain and review procedures that will make the Arsenal workforce safer, at work and at home.

The training ranged from understanding blood-borne pathogens to putting into action a fire extinguisher to operating a motorcycle safely. In all, seven safety-related areas were trained during the four-hour training period.

Karen Heiser, one of the Arsenal supervisors who provided training, said that stopping work for four hours was a great opportunity for the workforce to see the command's commitment to safety.

And the Arsenal commander, Col. Mark F. Migaleddi, also viewed shutting down operations for four hours as an investment -- in lives and fiscal management.

"Although our key goal for the training was to raise the level of safety awareness within the command, there was another goal that went beyond that of saving lives and limbs," Migaleddi said.

"Due to previous safety-related accidents, more than $1 million in Workman's Compensation costs go into the cost of our products every year," Migaleddi said. "The safer we are the lower our overhead expenses will be, which in turn will help us hold down the cost of our products to our customers."

The Watervliet Arsenal (pronounced water-vleet") is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812.

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 Wed June 13th, 2012 at 10:06