The Council for Dredging and Marine Construction Safety (CDMCS) held its quarterly meeting in Washington, D.C., on February 7, with an excellent turnout from both the industry and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agenda was dynamic and forward-leaning addressing hot topics with a variety of key stakeholders, such as the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the National Safety Council, the American Waterways Operators, Texas Water Infrastructure Network, and the National Safety Council.
CDMCS Co-Chair Devon Carlock is enthusiastic about the progress the group is making and remarked, “Thanks to Michael Gerhardt, CDMCS treasurer and Dredging Contractors of America assistant executive director, who has attended multiple conferences, these new stakeholders were present at our meeting and are looking forward to working with us.”
Carlock summarized the success and expansion of the organization in 2017 saying, “This expansion includes a self-produced, studio quality hand safety video; a modern website with the ability to access presentations, safety toolbox meetings and entry of safety statistics; and new partnerships with federal agencies, national safety organizations, and leading manufacturers of safety equipment.”
Also attending his first CDMCS meeting, the new CEO and Executive Director of the Dredging Contractors of America William Doyle was introduced to the council by Gerhardt. Doyle gave his full support to the CDMCS, stressing the importance of close cooperation with the Corps. He also praised the council’s efforts in maritime safety and shared some of his own safety-related experiences of working at sea.
Others present were Albert Wong, senior program manager for Construction, and CDMCS co-chair, who presented incident statistics within the districts, sharing in-depth analysis and suggestions on control measures to minimize risk for each of the highlighted incidents. Luis Bonita, HSE Dredging division manager of Weeks Marine, provided a presentation on the council’s injury statistics. A summary of 2017, trends, and ways to improve our current online safety reporting tool were discussed.
The Fatigue Factor
Emily Whitcomb, senior program manager, Fatigue Initiative, National Safety Council, provided an in-depth presentation on workplace fatigue and its dangers. Whitcomb spoke specifically about the construction industry and how this fatigue issue also applies to maritime. With fluctuations in work schedules, engine noise and other multiple factors, the maritime and dredging industries have significant challenges to overcome. Whitcomb offered to partner with CDMCS on a fatigue initiative by reporting and sharing information between the two organizations.
Corps Shift from Compliance to Risk Management
The Corps shared some important information with members. Mark Atkins, Corps HQ chief of safety, said that his team is engaged and listening to what the members of CDMCS are saying. He is supportive of the council’s efforts and certainly appreciates the input that the CDMCS members provide. The Corps is shifting its safety approach from compliance to risk management. CDMCS and the dredging industry at large were enthusiastic to learn of this shift in safety culture at the Corps. Atkins also said that the Corps will publish a guide that will help contractors know how to get their APP’s approved more universally and consistently. Tiffany Burroughs, Corps HQ coastal program manager, discussed the Corps’ actions on the submerged utilities/pipeline issue. The Corps’ Pipeline Location Observation Verification Enterprise Repository (PLOVER) is not active yet, and the Corps is still working to resolve potential regulatory ramifications, legal issues and national security concerns.
Kevin Cannon, senior director of Safety & Health Services at the Associated General Contractors of America, updated the council on upcoming regulatory processes and actions from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Crane operator certification and employer qualification deadlines were extended to November of this year. Proposed rule-making addressing the type and capacity issue for certification and the criteria for what it means to be “employer qualified” is forthcoming. OSHA is expected to keep the in-house employer training certification for contractors.
Perry Fowler of the Fowler Group Texas and the Texas Water Infrastructure Network, spoke on the importance of improving utility locations and agreed to partner with CDMCS on this issue. Coastal and Marine Operators (CAMO) has already agreed to speak at our next meeting on May 16.
Tyler Gray and Rick Burchfield of Gray Street Solutions engaged the members in a digital strategy discussion for 2018. Increasing the use of social media and news alerts, creating a good catch page on the website with downloadable examples and video footage, publishing an annual report, and possibly creating a learning management system were all discussed.
U.S. Coast Guard Website
Lee Johnson, U.S. Coast Guard HQ National Towing Coordinator, discussed the new Subchapter M regulations by walking the group through the uscg.mil website (www.dco.uscg.mil/tvncoe). Subchapter M regulations make inland towboats “inspected vessels,” and the compliance deadline is July 20 of this year. Companies will be allotted, however, a four-year timeframe to obtain certifications of inspection (COIs) for all their vessels at a rate of 25 percent each year. To comply, companies have the option to adopt a Towing Safety Management System (TSMS), which the USCG is advocating, or undergo USCG inspections. A vessel must operate under a TSMS for at least six months before it becomes eligible for a COI.
Matt Kent, government affairs associate at the American Waterway Operators (AWO), updated the council on AWO initiatives and AWO member safety statistics. Howard Cooper, safety manager, CSMS at The Dutra Group, discussed Dutra’s changes in drug and alcohol testing policy. The group discussed ideas on how to further implement best practice testing procedures and reasonable suspicion techniques being used by some of the member companies. CDMCS will continue to focus on this safety issue in the weeks and months to come.
Gerhardt underscored the CDMCS focus on “continuing the pursuit of the safety of our co-workers, continued sharing and development of safety management systems, control procedures and best practices. This is our priority. Our vision is steadfast and dedicated creating a 100 percent injury free workplace for the dredging and marine construction industry. The numbers show that by sharing best practices and fostering a safety-first culture accidents and incidents can be reduced and are crews can go home safely.”
Carlock concurred, adding, “We invite any company that is serious about safety, to please come join us and make a difference.”