As many of you may be aware, OSHA issued citations to Hill Air Force Base as a result of their inspections January through July 2011. These findings identified several areas where we were falling short -- in both our daily operations and the use of engineering solutions to mitigate the hazardous environments in which some of you work. While we do have work ahead, we already began making progress toward solutions.
- We set up a Workplace Safety and Health Team consisting of representatives from the 309th Maintenance Wing, the Installation Safety Office, Occupational Medicine, Bioenvironmental Engineering and the union to review each individual finding. They are making corrective action recommendations for each issue identified by the OSHA inspectors.
- In certain areas, housekeeping was not adequately removing hazards. Prior to OSHA's official release of their report in August, we had joint teams of employees and union representatives working to establish better procedural controls. These new housekeeping procedures will help reduce exposures and release of hazardous metals outside the immediate work area.
- One of the hazards identified is cadmium and chromium VI dust present in many of our media blasting operations. The use of assigned personal protective equipment, while doing the blasting, provides the first level of protection. Our teams are working to identify and clearly define administrative procedures that provide an extra measure of protection. These measures include clearly establishing and defining: regulated areas; areas where exposures to hazards can be reasonably expected; and transition areas to ensure that release of these hazards is minimized. We are also doing an engineering analysis of these areas and expect to invest in both new equipment and new technology, such as laser de-coating systems, that will further reduce or eliminate the risks.
- In some cases, training programs needed to be updated. For example, employees in industrial areas were required to take an initial class on toxic metals. This was a one-time course and failed to capture the new information we gain on hazardous materials every year. To address this, the 309th Maintenance Wing updated the course and made it an annual training requirement. It will now provide current and relevant information throughout the employee's career.
Some of the other findings OSHA identified were quick fixes, such as removing an unsafe stand from a work area and changing the type of gloves available for use in the facility. Conversely, some of the items, such as the redesign of a media blast booth, will take more time. In the interim, the first line of safety is wearing personal protective equipment and following the new administrative procedures.
By nature, industrial complexes like this one have risks, but providing you the safest possible work environment is our priority. These OSHA citations tell us we have work to do, but our goal is to have our Team Hill workforce in full compliance with OSHA requirements by early 2012. We will be visiting some of your areas in the near future and would like to hear from you. Your input is critical to our success.
Working together as a team, we can fix those things which need to be fixed while also becoming the model for workplace safety and health within the Department of Defense.