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WEDA Hosts Annual Safety Commission

Anthony DePasquale, the operations chief, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District, made a comment during the Safety Commission Panel, June 24.

Anthony DePasquale, the operations chief, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District, made a comment during the Safety Commission Panel, June 24.

At the WesternDredging Association (WEDA) Dredging Summit & Expo, the Safety Commission, led by Julie Hile of Hile Group, hosted its panel on Wednesday, June 24. Other panel members joining the group included Marc Sterns from Manson Construction Co., and a representative from the Corps of Engineers and Terra Contracting Services.

Hile asked many questions, including what is the best, simple new idea recently put into practice to improve safety performance individually and as an organization leader, and how does the company notice, affirm and document positive safety performance?

Some of the good responses included having management act as a crewmember once every six months, going to job sites with a fresh set of eyes and look for safety issues, and planning a voluntary safety stand-down day to focus on issues with leadership and workers.

Detailing ways that companies reward or recognize positive safety experiences was more difficult, and as Hile noted, it is counterintuitive for most good businesses, which are experts at identifying problems and fixing them, rather than noticing what is working and why.

During the Q&A session, Galveston District Col. Richard Pannell asked the panel to detail what the Corps could better in working with its industry partners on safety issues. Suggestions included encouraging Corps field construction managers or project engineers to regularly participate in safety meetings and actively look for safety issues, and talking with the industry before a project goes to bid to see if contractors have any concerns.

Julie Hile of the Hile Group led the Safety Panel Commission discussion.

Anthony DePasquale, the operations chief, Philadelphia District, addressed the panel to note some of the successes he has seen from the Corps and his district. The latest safety manual for the Corps of Engineers included a swimming rule for surveying dredging jobs on the beach, which did not allow swimmers to go into the surf. The job instead required a boat to go in and finish the survey. DePasquale said it was an issue that was introduced during the previous WEDA safety panel. Industry spoke up loudly, and the Corps listened, he said. The incident reports showed that it was more dangerous to bring boats into the surf zone, rather than swimmers, and this type of operation cost a lot more. DePasquale said headquarters recently issued a memorandum to the new safety Corps manual, which will allow swimmers back in the surf zone. He said the Philadelphia District is putting it into practice immediately.

DePasquale also said the Corps used to have a program in the 90s called Liberty from Accidents, which recognized and rewarded contracts for good safety work with hats and t-shirts. Since then the Corps has had some restrictions on gift giving and awards, but he thinks this could be overcome with renewed interest.

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