ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND -- Pratfalls are only funny in movies. In the real world, they cause pain and cost time and money.

The Research, Development and Engineering Command Communications-Electronics Center Safety Center supported Safe + Sound Week at Aberdeen Proving Ground, or APG, August 13-17.

Having Safe + Sound week in August helps sets the tone for National Preparedness Month in September. Safety and preparedness go hand-in-hand in living your best life.

Safe + Sound week is an national program sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, to raise awareness in understanding the importance of health and safety in the workplace.

Safety Centers provide supervisors with information to evaluate and review potential job hazards in the workplace, which is passed to the workforce via safety protocol orientations. Examples include evacuation routes in case of fire or what to do if chemicals touch the skin.

The Communications-Electronics Center's Safety Center gave the APG workforce an opportunity to participate in a variety of training courses, varying from falls to office ergonomics.

Sean Obrian, safety director, planned the training courses based on feedback from the workforce and common injuries.

"While they may seem minor, slips, trips and falls continue to be the highest injury producers within CERDEC (Communications-Electronics Center)," Obrian said.

David Madaras, certified safety professional, from the Chesapeake Region Safety Council presented general information to prevent the most common injuries: slips, trips and falls.

"We interact with each other, talk about it and discuss it and turn it into knowledge," said Madaras. "Truly, where the wisdom associated with it all comes from is when we walk outside and apply that knowledge to what we do each and every day."

Madaras defined three important terms for assessing every situation: risk, accident and hazard. A risk involves measuring the probability and severity of potential adverse effects. An accident is an unplanned, undesired event that disrupts the completion of an activity, and a hazard is anything that could potentially cause harm or damage people, property or the environment.

"We've got an intersection here and the only thing you had to worry about was a stray cow walking across the street," said Madaras, providing an example. "Now there's development everywhere and people are racing around. The same intersection becomes more dangerous."

In the example given by Madaras, the risk is the intersection, the hazard is the development of the area and the accident is the resulting fender-benders.

So what is safety? Safety is controlling or eliminating recognized hazards to attain an acceptable level of risk.

"That is why we offered a presentation on the mitigation and prevention of slips, trips and falls," Obrian said.

One safety area that's now a hot topic is office ergonomics.

Lauren Costanzi, U.S. Army public health officer from the U.S. Army Public Center Ergonomics Branch, presented one of the training courses about office ergonomics during Safety + Sound week.

Office ergonomics is fitting the workplace to the worker, not the worker to workplace. Costanzi identified seven rick factors found in the office: duration, compression, posture, vibration, force, temperature and repetition.

"First, we're going to talk about the desk," said Costanzi. "The desk is most important because it dictates what height everything else you're using is going to be set at. That means your monitor is going to be set at a certain height, you're going to be working at a certain height because your keyboard and mouse are going to be placed on whatever that surface height is and a standard desk is typically set too high for the average person."

If the desk is not the correct height, users scrunch their neck and upper back, causing issues over time. That's where adjustable desks and other tools become helpful in the workplace. For example, keeping the desk and surrounding area clean and organized helps maintain proper posture.

Chairs, foot rests for shorter workers, monitor spacing and even lighting all play a part in keeping the workforce healthy and maintaining good office ergonomics.

Vision impairment is the most common physical complaint -- 10 million people have vision impairments due to the amount of time spent at a computer.

"You usually have some harsh lighting that you can't control," said Costanzi. "You have the light from your monitor and sitting in front of it all day long. It's just because our eyes are not designed to take that all day."

She recommends setting an alarm to make it easier to remember to relax your eyes or take a lap around the office to move your muscles. Bifocals or computer glasses are useful if you have to work on a computer for extended amounts of time. Computer glasses can relieve the stress on the neck, preventing pinched nerves and headaches.

The last office ergonomics tool presented during Safe + Sound week was the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, or CAP. CAP is a Department of Defense program that provides accommodations for the workforce at no cost to the organization. More information about CAP assistance is located at CAP.mil.

Other training included fire safety, first aid, AED/CPR and the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard.

"Safety is our everyday mission and is incorporated throughout everything we do," said Patrick O'Neil, director of the Communication-Electronics Center. "World class organizations, such as ours, do all they can to avoid unnecessary accidents. That being said, it is good to pause from time to time and provide special emphasis. Our people are our most precious resource, so take advantage of this opportunity to emphasize safety."


The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.