TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Depot and tenant organization safety programs recently competed for the 2010 Safety Area of the Year Awards.

Three directorates and one tenant agency were recognized for their contributions to Tobyhanna's safety mission. The Systems Integration and Support Directorate's Component Painting Branch claimed the Heavy Industrial Area; the Resource Management Directorate's Manpower and Management Analysis (MMA) Division earned first place in the Administrative Area; the Production Management Directorate's Materiel Accountability and Analysis Branch took top honors in the Medium/Light Industrial Area, and U.S. Army TMDE Support Center-Tobyhanna walked away with the Tenant Activity Award.

The annual awards acknowledge cost centers that have outstanding safety programs and individuals whose performances have best supported the depot's safety mission.

William Freeman says everyone in TMDE plays an active role in the safety program. Supervisors and employees work together to prevent, correct and respond to any safety issue.

"Employees are fully empowered to take appropriate action to help prevent or resolve hazardous situations," the support center director noted. "As a result, they feel comfortable alerting supervisors of potential dangers and providing assistance."

For the past several years this area's radiation safety program has been rated outstanding at their headquarters' level, according to Paula Mesaris, acting Safety Division chief.

"[TMDE] promotes open communication between team members, which allows hazardous conditions to be addressed quickly," Mesaris said. "Employees check and test electrical equipment, fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, flooring, lighting and ventilation regularly."

Depot officials in each category often conduct inspections to promote safety in the work place.
"It's up to me to set the example," said Michael Bednar, Materiel Accountability and Analysis Branch (MAAB) chief. "I promote safety by performing unscheduled visits and by challenging employees to work safely and report potential safety hazards."

All employees need to be concerned about various hazards, such as material handling equipment, box cutters, and oversized and heavy items, according to Bednar. Employees also need to be alert when working around products such as sheet metal and other raw metals used in depot fabrication shops, he added. MAAB employees have gone more than 1,400 days without a recordable injury.

"The branch made several changes within the cost center last year," Mesaris said. "The team worked together to identify and address safety issues, and obtain new equipment and Personnel Protective Equipment, making the entire work place safer."

Depot employees are able to make significant and positive impacts on an organization's safety program through continuous improvement. Organizations track and schedule training through the Total Employment Development system.

"We feel that training plays an essential role in the development of employees," said Robert Edmunds, MMA
Division chief. "It provides them with knowledge that becomes indispensable when dealing with safety related issues."

Edmunds acknowledges that dangers in an office environment are vastly different from that of a direct mission area; however, they do exist. The use of ergonomic equipment in the office is just as important as wearing proper PPE in the warehouse - the use of both can have an impact on an employee's quality of life, he added.

"Our team takes great pride in making sure that the work environment is safe for everyone and everyone works together," said Adam Walski, the division's safety star point. "This award means a lot to us."

The Component Painting Branch maintains a safe work area by following safety standards established in the Job Hazard Analysis. In addition, the cost center's safety star point relays any information, issues, concerns and ideas to employees during weekly staff meetings.

The supervisors and employees also discuss 'what-if' scenarios to help them be better prepared in the event of an emergency.

"In 2010, the branch had a staggering low amount of safety related injuries," said Jay Wilson, branch chief. "An injury hasn't been reported in more than 340 days."

Increased emphasis was placed on the labeling, identification and proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials, according to Mesaris. "Members of this cost center look for and implement best practices to safeguard Tobyhanna and the environment."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.