HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Dozens of safety officials from across the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) enterprise recently convened at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville to learn how to properly investigate, document and report safety incidents.
The three-day course held in December marked the first time Huntsville Center has hosted the Safety Investigation Board training. Two more courses are scheduled for fiscal year 2023 at other USACE locations.
Instructors Jason Walsh, USACE loss outcome manager, and Marty Werdebaugh, USACE safety and occupational health specialist, taught students how to implement a step-by-step process for investigating accidents and guided them through a series of scenarios to test and hone their skills.
Walsh defined an accident as “any unplanned event or series of events that results in death, injury, or illness to personnel, or damage to or loss of equipment or property.”
Students were exposed to three accident scenarios during the application portion of the course: a fall from the roof while repairing a roof leak, resulting in a fatality; a fall from scaffolding while replacing a ceiling tile, resulting in a fatality; and a table saw mishap, resulting in a finger amputation.
Working in teams, they investigated each accident location, interviewed witnesses, analyzed their findings and presented a final report and briefing. The ultimate goal of each investigation, Walsh said, is to identify causes and underlying factors, not to find fault or assign blame.
“When we understand what caused and contributed to an accident occurring, we can implement corrective actions to reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence,” he said.
Eight Huntsville Center safety officials attended the training, including Alicia Hodge, safety and occupational health specialist responsible for the Center’s Civilian Safety Program.
“Although fatalities and permanent disabilities are rare for us here, the training was really valuable because the same techniques can be used to investigate any safety incident we come across, and we were able to practice those techniques in the scenarios,” Hodge said. “It was the next best thing to actually getting the experience in real life.”
Also in attendance was Travis Brokaw, a lead occupational and health specialist for the U.S. Army. Brokaw audited the course to determine if it fulfills the requirements for the Army’s training for safety and occupational health specialists. If approved, the SIB training offered by USACE will also count toward the Army’s level 1 certification for career program 12, or the safety and occupational health career program.