From 21-25 January 2024, Transatlantic Middle East Division (TAD) safety chief, Kevin Raposa, Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) safety chief, Vanessa Matheny, and Corps of Engineers Safety and Occupational Health Management System (CE-SOHMS) assessors James Trail and Jeff Kirkey visited the district’s field offices in Jordan and Bahrain for stage 3 interviews of the CE-SOHMS program. During that time the safety chiefs and assessors engaged in a comprehensive review of the program’s stage 3 criteria. They interviewed non-supervisory personnel and supervisory personnel to determine if the CE-SOHMS planning had effectively reached stage 3.
CE-SOHMS is the execution of a safety management system. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) spearheaded CE-SOHMS in 2017. It is now a methodology required by regulation and supported by USACE leadership to fully integrate safety and occupational health functions into all USACE business operations. It ensures risk is managed properly at the correct level resulting in reduced injuries and illnesses of employees and contractors, while enhancing USACE ability to complete our mission on-time, within budget, and at a quality expected by USACE customers.
CE-SOHMS is a 3-stage evolution and it can take time for the culture of safety to take root in the organization.
• Stage 1 “Crawl” – Development of processes, plans, and documents.
• Stage 2 “Walk” – Program implementation where those documents and plans are shared with and to train employees with the safety mindset.
• Stage 3 “Run” – The stage where the field has implemented and are acting according to the safety management system.
Raposa shares, “Complete implementation of the CE-SOHMS takes time. It requires years of effective leadership communication with Safety and Occupational Health (SOH) professionals to train, teach, and mentor at all organizational levels. This demonstrates how employees are taking ownership of the safety program, with support from supervisors. This is a significant achievement that each and every TAM employee has accomplished!”
The field concurs with Raposa’s assertion.
Major Christopher “Barty” Bartenhagen, a TAM Project Manager Forward at the Jordan field office, is excited about completing stage 3 of CE-SOHMS. Bartenhagen says , “I’m the safety champion at the Jordan resident office. I work hand in hand with our collateral duty safety officer and together we try to implement this organizational change with not only the TAM employees but also with the contractors on site as well. Safety is more than just a checklist, and that’s where CE-SOHMS delivers. It shifts safety from a checklist to a mindset. We have implemented a culture where we bring safety to the forefront of our actions so everyone can get home safely each night.”
The assessment determined that the execution of the SOH systems are effective and that there is a high level of employee knowledge and commitment to safety in the field. Hazard identification in the field is producing desired positive results and the Emergency Action Plans (EAP) are documented and demonstrated.
TAM started their CE-SOHMS pathway in 2019. It is now the sixth out of 52 Districts to complete stage 3.
Assessor Trail states, “As many districts I have been involved with in their CE-SOHMS journey, assessing or helping in other ways, I am most proud of what TAM has done with their very unique challenge of location and personnel shifts. It is important to understand the TAM stage 3 versus state side stage 3 is totally different and by far more challenging for TAM’s Area of Responsibility (AOR).”
The next steps are to ensure the District sustains what they have accomplished while consistently reassessing the CE-SOHMS criteria. “It is important to encourage SOH ownership at all levels horizontally and vertically,” said Matheny, “and we will continue to seek opportunities for improvement.”
Successfully completing the Department of Army final assessment results in the award of an “Army SOH Star”.
Matheny has a plan moving forward in the CE-SOHMS process. She explains, “Completing stage 3 of CE-SOHMS is a big step and the success is thanks to TAM leadership support and cooperation of all personnel. I can say that coming in as the new Safety Chief, we will move forward with the final stage in achieving the U.S. Army SOH Star, I have confidence that TAM will be successful. One of the safety office top priorities is to build a journey proposal plan to prepare for the SOH Star award. We will be building a story that shows our continuous improvement and success safety stories from the time we completed stage 3.”