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Ordnance and Management Solutions - URS Takes Safety Seriously

Nov. 14, 2012
O&MS goes the full mile to protect workers in its chemical demilitarization facilities.
The employees at Ordnance and Management Solutions (O&MS), the unit of URS Corp. focusing on destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile, face challenging and hazardous work situations. Fortunately, their company goes above and beyond to protect them.

For example, when workers who perform maintenance in the munitions demilitarization building enter that highly toxic environment, O&MS spares no expense and leaves no safety stone unturned. Workers start by heading to the onsite medical facility for a heat screen and checkup of weight, blood pressure, heart rate and more. When the workers are ready to enter the building, they wear Level A hazmat suits and 70 pounds of additional PPE; they continuously are monitored throughout the job for signs of heat stress or other complications. Once their work is complete, the employees return to the medical center for another checkup and then are required to take a mandatory,  30-minute rest and rehydration break. It's a system that works: O&MS employees have made over 15,000 safe entries into this environment.

If you ask Marty J. Buell, CSP, director environmental, safety, health and quality, how this focus on safety has aided O&MS beyond the obvious goal of protecting employee health, he has a simple answer: productivity.

"What we've shown over time is that if you put an influence on safety and environmental compliance, your productivity will climb," says Buell. "You don't have to stop for an injury investigation or an environmental investigation. If you put the focus on safety, productivity will be there, and you can finish ahead of schedule."

All three O&MS sites have received OSHA VPP Star Status, and the company maintained an impressive lost-time injury rate of 0.07 in 2011. Buell attributes this safety success to the company's willingness to listen to employee input and make changes as needed, as well as through the following key safety program components: management support and a participatory management culture; routine safety stand-downs; a facility condition reporting system; behavior-based safety programs; employee ownership of safety; stop-work authority; pre-job planning processes; a Safety Observer program; and more.

These elements combine not just to protect O&MS employees, but also the public: "Nerve agents GB and VX were designed to incapacitate and kill," O&MS' America's Safest Companies application states. "Blister agents HD and HT were designed to incapacitate. Therefore, we are not only protecting our work force, we are responsible for protecting the safety of the communities surrounding our chemical demilitarization facilities."

The hard work O&MS performs to maintain a safe environment for all involved clearly is a source of pride for the company:  Buell pointed out that O&MS will present America's Safest Companies trophies at each location so all workers can take a moment to bask in this accomplishment.

Ordnance & Management Solutions - URS, Abingdon, Md.
Industry:  Destruction of the U.S. Chemical Weapons Stockpile
2,300 employees at three sites
36 EHS Professionals

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