From left: Chemical Defense Training Facility Deputy Director Greg Wolf, CDTF Safety Specialist George Dalgetty, CDTF Director Dan Murray, and CDTF Surety Support Assistant Michele Sanders pose with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Program Star Work Site flag Friday outside the CDTF. OSHA recertified the Fort Leonard Wood facility last month as a VPP Star Work Site – the office’s highest standard for workplace safety. The CDTF, which conducts live chemical warfare agent training for the Department of Defense, received its initial certification in 2019.
From left: Chemical Defense Training Facility Deputy Director Greg Wolf, CDTF Safety Specialist George Dalgetty, CDTF Director Dan Murray, and CDTF Surety Support Assistant Michele Sanders pose with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Program Star Work Site flag Friday outside the CDTF. OSHA recertified the Fort Leonard Wood facility last month as a VPP Star Work Site – the office’s highest standard for workplace safety. The CDTF, which conducts live chemical warfare agent training for the Department of Defense, received its initial certification in 2019. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recertified Fort Leonard Wood’s Chemical Defense Training Facility last month for meeting the office’s highest standards for workplace safety.

The CDTF, which is the only facility that conducts live chemical warfare agent training for the Department of Defense, received its initial certification as an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program Star Work Site in 2019. In an Oct. 13 letter from OSHA to CDTF Director Dan Murray, Billie Kizer, administrator for OSHA’s Kansas City Regional Office — which has responsibility over Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — wrote participants of VPP serve as models for other employers and workers by operating excellent safety and health management programs.

“Achieving a level of worker protection that goes beyond compliance with government regulations is commendable,” Kizer wrote. “Congratulations on your dedication and worker involvement in the prevention of injuries and illnesses. I encourage you to share your successes with others and continually improve your safety and health program.”

Murray said maintaining this standard over the past three years has been an opportunity for the CDTF to do something in the safety arena “that was meaningful and that would communicate to our leadership — military and civilian alike — in some sort of common language, that we take safety seriously.”

“Everything we do is focused on safety, just because of the nature of the work we do,” Murray said. “Our leaders need to be able to have the confidence that we don’t have any issues that present a risk to the mission, the people who work and train here or the community.”

The recertification process included a visit from OSHA representatives, who performed document reviews and on-site inspections, walk throughs and employee interviews intended to verify the programs that earned the certification in the first place are still in active practice. Helping ensure the CDTF — and any new employees or contractors there — remained focused on the health of the program was George Dalgetty, the facility’s safety specialist.

Dalgetty said the people, both employees and management, make the CDTF the best place in the Army to work — he called it “a safety guy’s dream.”

“It’s not me,” he said. “It’s everyone in the facility who makes this what it is. We all believe. At the end of the day, you feel safer coming to work at a safe worksite.”

Though all elements of the CDTF’s safety and health management programs met OSHA’s expectations for VPP participants, four areas were noted in OSHA’s report as “exemplary and models for other industries.” These included the Army’s Deliberate Risk Assessment process that summarizes risks associated with particular tasks; the CDTF’s Smart Card program that highlights safety information for employees on a pocket-sized card; monthly safety stand-down training sessions; and leader involvement that has empowered employees at all levels to stop unsafe acts and report issues with no fear of reprisals or any other negative actions.

Murray pointed out the CDTF is the only organization within U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command — and one of only about 50 locations across the DOD — to participate in the VPP as a Star Work Site. Going above and beyond the mandated standards shows the CDTF is operated and led every day by a team of committed professionals, who understand the need to fight against complacency.

“Having external eyes, having safety professionals come in is vital to us — it’s vital to any organization — because you don’t always see what you look at every day,” Murray said.

Now that the CDTF has been recertified, the next step is another recertification in five years’ time — that means keeping the culture of safety at the CDTF alive and well.

“We’re the only place in the DOD that does what we do,” Dalgetty said. “We train all the services here, and we train with live chemical agents, so safety is inherent in everything we do.”