By Wendy ArevaloJune 14, 2017
Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center was recognized as an Army Safety and Occupational Health Star site in a ceremony here on June 12, making it one of two medical facilities in Region Health Command-Central to earn the award this year.
Star site recognition is given to units that demonstrate a culture of safety and all members of the organization understand their role in promoting a safe environment.
The Army Safety and Health Management System's Star award is based on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program in which organizations must complete a process of 243 tasks over three stages within a three year period.
Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center's Safety Manager Terry Jones said he made it his goal to attain the Star award shortly after he joined the Safety Office in January 2013.
The first hurdle was increasing employee training percentages. In 2012, RWBAHC's training percentage was at 64 percent. A minimum 95 percent completion rate is required to be eligible for the Star award.
Jones said he learned after his second assessment that he needed a better way to track employee training.
He developed a spreadsheet with every employee's name, safety training required, and completion date. When the employee was due for their next annual training, he or his staff would send them a reminder.
The process worked, through leader engagement at all levels, RWBAHC achieved an average of 98 percent safety training completion.
"We track every single safety training requirement, by individual, to make sure our training is on spot," Jones said.
Ensuring all employees are current on their training requires some hands-on efforts by the Safety Office. For example, to ensure all staff members meet their annual fire safety training, he conducts fire safety training at every newcomer briefing, on a monthly basis with departments, and on an as needed appointment basis as well.
But, creating a proactive safety culture requires more than the efforts of the Safety Office. Jones said he also has the help of departmental safety officers and staff.
"The Safety Office's role is to be that guide leading the organization through the process," Jones said. It's not my program, it's everyone's program. Everyone made us successful and that's how we got through this."
When it came time for the final readiness audit by the Department of Defense Safety Management Center of Excellence, it was imperative that all staff knew the safety policies and standard operating procedures.
Thirty-two staff members went through a formal interview process and others were informally interviewed on the spot.
DoD Safety Management Center of Excellence contractor Alyssa Gormish, who conducted the final readiness audit, said she was impressed with the staff's knowledge.
"Mr. Jones had great visibility throughout the facility and had a fantastic working relationship with the command staff, industrial hygiene, occupational health, and the employees," Gormish said. "Everyone knew if there were any problems, all they had to do was get him on the phone."
To ensure all employees were properly educated, Jones engaged the help of leadership, reviewed ASHMS/VPP program elements with staff during huddles and formalized training, conducted departmental and personalized training, and empowered departmental safety officers to conduct ASHMS training within their department.
For Jones, his goal has always been to ensure the employees have a safe environment in which to work.
"If we keep employees safe, the mission is not interrupted, Jones said. "We're family, and we don't ever want to see a family member hurt or injured or without income because they can't work."