CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- Readiness and workplace safety go hand in hand at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea, and that continued emphasis has not gone unnoticed.
USAMMC-K was one of three Eighth Army units that were recently awarded Fiscal Year 2019 Exceptional Organization Safety Awards. The center received the battalion-level award.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, deputy commanding general of operations for the Eighth Army, presented the award on Jan. 8 to USAMMC-K Commander Lt. Col. Marc R. Welde, Sgt. Maj. Danyell E. Walters and the unit's Safety and Occupational Health Specialist Chaehun Choe.
"While I credit the entire command for their safety efforts in all they do, most credit for this award goes to Mr. Choe," Welde said. "His diligence and determination to ensure our teammates are afforded a workplace which is free of unnecessary risks is unparalleled."
Welde said Choe "isn't shy" about addressing safety program deficiencies, adding that he "leaves no stone unturned and never settles to ensure our teammates have the safest possible workplace."
"Our entire organization counts on him," he said.
Choe said USAMMC-K was the first U.S. Forces Korea organization to achieve "star status" under the Army Safety Health Management System. The center has maintained that status since 2007, in addition to earning certification through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration last year.
"I see safety as somewhat similar to the fire department and firefighters," Choe said. "We all work to eliminate our own job" by promoting safety and taking steps to avoid hazards before they become a problem.
Welde said the team at USAMMC-K counts on the safety program to accomplish their armistice mission, but also to maintain readiness to "fight tonight" if called upon.
"Having have a comprehensive program in place now ensures we will be able to accomplish the mission no matter what operating environment we are faced with," he said.
The Eighth Army's brigade-level award went to the 65th Medical Brigade, while the garrison-level honor went to the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan-Casey.
According to the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, winning units reinforce the importance of proactive risk management integrated throughout plans, operations and training with effective loss prevention being central to Army readiness.
To be considered for an award, the Army Safety Program states that both individuals and organizations must have made significant improvements and contributions to accident prevention efforts, among other criteria, during the previous fiscal year.
Choe, who works as an "office of one" in executing USAMMC-K's safety program, said he may not have a full "safety team," but the center's leadership and building managers have taken their role in planning and preparations very seriously.
That teamwork has allowed USAMMC-K to maintain a safe working environment for Soldiers, civilians and contractors alike, he said.
"Participation is important," Choe said. "By preparing, we can prevent most hazards."