US Army Corps of Engineers
Buffalo District

Safety Day highlights summer safety, engages families

Published June 28, 2016
Buffalo Fire Department Rescue 1 truck on display for the Safety Day events, June 24, 2016.

Buffalo Fire Department Rescue 1 truck on display for the Safety Day events, June 24, 2016.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District Safety Officer Bill Pioli gets his blood pressure tested by an occupational health safety nurse, June 24, 2016.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District Safety Officer Bill Pioli gets his blood pressure tested by an occupational health safety nurse, June 24, 2016.

Photo collage showing safety sticker and Cool Ray emoji, which are used to promote safety in the Buffalo District.

Photo collage showing safety sticker and Cool Ray emoji, which are used to promote safety in the Buffalo District.

When it comes to safety, engaging employees on a regular basis and encourage them to share that information with family members, save lives and grows a strong community.  Which is why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District safety office combined the Safety Day with the annual Corps Day events.

“The idea was simple.  Corp of Engineer team members bring their family to the District every summer to celebrate accomplishments, why not take advantage of having such a large and diverse audience to highlight the importance of safety,” said Bill Pioli, USACE Buffalo District safety manager.   “We created events that our employees would find interesting, but would also engage the young children.”

The Safety Day was held as part of the USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division’s Safety and Occupational Health Day, which focuses on promoting the Corps of Engineers safety program, and ensures safety messages, occupational health messages, and the risk assessment program is effectively communicated.

During the Buffalo District Safety Day an occupational health nurse was on-site, offering free blood pressure tests, talking about the risks of hypertension, and providing tips and techniques to living a life with a lower blood pressure.

“One of the most dangerous aspects of high blood pressure or hypertension is that you may not know you suffer from it. In fact, nearly one-third of people who have high blood pressure are unaware of the dangerous condition. The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is by having it checked,” said Pioli.

Employees and their families also had an opportunity to interact with the Buffalo Fire Department.

“The fire department brought with them a heavy rescue truck, allowed people to ask questions and hold the tools they use during a rescue,” said Pioli.  “Sometimes a safety message coming from the people who are at the scene of an emergency has a lasting impact.  They are able to provide first-hand knowledge and connect on a deeper level.”

The Regulatory Section also got in on the action with Joe Kassler and Lesta Ammons setting up a "Snakes and Spiders" display in the employee lounge. 

“One goal was to help raise awareness of biological hazards one could encounter while in the field, or even in your backyard,” said Lesta Ammons, USACE Buffalo District biologist.  “But the greater goal was to help people understand the valuable ecological role spiders and snakes play in our environment and to help people overcome their fears, or at least come to terms with their fears, and learn to respect these wonderful creatures to better enjoy nature is a safe manner.”

Throughout the Safety Day, Pioli was delivering safety tips to employees and their family. 

“Sometimes a simple reminder to wear sunscreen or wear your lifejacket is enough to keep us safe.  But, for others we need that constant reminder, so I stuck our safety stickers with our four driver-safety messages where ever I could.  Those messages? Obey the law, stay alert, don’t text and drive, and don’t drink and drive,” said Pioli.

Last but not least, the Public Affairs Office and the Safety Office ran a month-long “Name the Emoji” campaign.  The point of the campaign was to draw focus to the Visual Information Shops’ sun-oriented emoji and the accompanying safety messages.  Among the many excellent names submitted, “Cool Ray” won out.  Cool Ray will be communicating with the Buffalo District staff until Labor Day when his winter counterpart will take over.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility.  The Safety Day is a good reminder to keep safety a top priority, but also to start the conversation with co-workers and family.  If a culture is created that encourages open communication and support for safety, then ultimately overtime the organization will be more effective in keeping its team members out of harm’s way.