With such a robust portfolio of projects ranging from hazardous toxic and radiological clean up to dredging federal navigation channels, how does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District identify safety risks that keep the people who work on the project safe?
Using outside the box thinking, the Buffalo District safety team is applying a safety program that is usually applied to vertical buildings and construction projects, known as facility system safety (FASS).
“What we do in the Buffalo District is apply the underlying principals of FASS to our different projects,” said Bill Pioli, USACE Buffalo District acting safety officer. “FASS looks to identify and control safety risks and hazards in all stages of projects, and that is exactly what we are looking to do within our dredging, hazardous toxic and radiological waste, breakwater repair, and beryllium decomposition programs. It is a natural fit.”
Recently, experts in FASS Victor Taylor and Will Eggleston with the USACE Huntsville Engineering and Support Center visited the Buffalo District to evaluate the effectiveness of how FASS principals are being applied to non-vertical structure projects.
“The Huntsville Engineering and Support Center is a FASS Designated Center of Expertise (DX) and Taylor and Eggleston are the top-guns in assessing safety risk, documenting it, mitigating it and then inspecting construction sites for safety compliance,” said Pioli. “They promote safety involvement at all levels of work, so it was only appropriate that they were the ones to evaluate our FASS program as we continually look for improvement.”
The visit from the DX experts to the Buffalo District has helped to develop the FASS program.
“Overall the DX experts were impressed at how we were applying FASS principals that have helped us to identify ways of preventing illness or injury on our civil works projects,” said Pioli. “Their visit pointed out to us that we should expand on the initial FASS training we offer our employees, and potentially offer refresher training for applying the principals to our projects.”
The visit from the DX experts is the just the start for the Buffalo District safety office to improve and share the innovative way of applying the FASS program to civil works projects. During a meeting at the end of September, Mr. Pioli will have an opportunity to present the program to safety officers across the Corps of Engineers.
“From the meeting I would love feedback from my counterparts in other districts. I want the program to be criticized and scrutinized so that it can be made better,” said Pioli. “If other districts like what we are doing and want to try to apply it to their civil works projects, even better!”
“I could not be prouder of the Buffalo District safety office,” said MAJ Jared E. Runge, USACE Buffalo District deputy commander. “It is the constant push for improvement that ensures the Buffalo District will keep its project sites safe and raise the standard for safety within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”