The Army Materiel Command enterprise is expanding its robust safety program to ensure that arsenals, depots, plants and office spaces alike are held to the same exceptional standards of safety.
Safety programs are managed by safety professionals and cover program elements that are continuously evaluated to meet safety standards, such as confined spaces, hazardous materials, work place safety and off-duty safety. These standards protect people and resources. At the requirement of the Department of Defense, AMC is now implementing a Safety and Occupational Health Management System, or SOHMS for short, across the enterprise to take safety management even further.
SOHMS, which is implemented over three stages, is designed to move away from the traditional compliance-based approach to safety to a process-based systems approach by changing the thoughts and behaviors of employees. This process is present in depots, plants and arsenals, and AMC is expanding on its success, said George LeFevre, an operations safety manager at AMC.
“It is going to take a paradigm shift in the way we think about safety,” he said. “It does change the culture of an organization.”
In this system, it’s not just the safety team leading the effort. Every employee and leader has an active role, which aims to take existing programs to the next level. LeFevre said the effort is taking all the existing safety programs and packaging them together in a systematic way.
“Leaders are committed and employees are engaged, so we get everyone involved in safety where they are,” LeFevre said. “This system moves away from a checklist type of safety format to training employees to change their behavior and think about safety in their workplace more actively.”
The system involves identifying safety issues, mitigating them and developing a process to further fix the issues and train the force.
Stage one of the implementation process looks at the policies and processes that are currently in place and how they might need to be updated or changed. Stage two is educating the workforce to make employees aware of their role in safety processes and policies. Stage three is ownership in the new policies, including measuring whether leaders are engaged with employees and guidelines are being followed.
According to LeFevre, each organization will receive a “star status” when the system has been fully implemented.
“If an organization achieves star status, when people come into the organization they will recognize there’s a different attitude and environment,” LeFevre said. “The organization is at a more productive level, which is sort of an intangible benefit to the safety plan.”
LeFevre said other benefits of the SOHMS include a better tracking system for mishap rates, numbers of hazards and how long they take to be resolved. By implementing a SOHMS across the enterprise, AMC will also experience savings in preventable mishap costs and resources.
Major subordinate commands are in the process of developing their plans to support this effort. The goal is to have the AMC Safety and Occupational Health Management System fully implemented by fiscal year 2025.