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Posted 10/18/2012

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By Clem Gaines


The Corps of Engineers contractor (Manhattan/Torcon Joint Venture) building the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick has earned a key project safety award from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They received a plaque recognizing their achievement at a ceremony at the installation Community Center on Sept. 18.

The Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) recognizes businesses and worksites that show excellence in occupational safety and health.  Sites are committed to effective employee protection beyond the requirements of OSHA standards.  VPP participants develop and implement systems to effectively identify, evaluate, prevent and control occupational hazards to avoid employee injuries and illnesses.

The program is based on four principles.  These are management commitment and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.  "All these principles were successfully implemented on the USAMRIID project," said William Hettchen, project manager.  "To date, the project has an incident rate 75 percent lower than the national average."

There were a total of approximately 650 employees working directly onsite for construction activities plus an additional 50 supervisory personnel.

"The success of Manhattan/Torcon is to be commended.  Earning Star level recognition from OSHA for their safety management system is a significant achievement and would not be possible without the effort of the whole team, to include the oversight, commitment to safety and overall professional behavior of the USACE USAMRIID Project Team," said Bill Ferrier, the Baltimore District safety specialist who has been assigned to this project from the beginning.  "Their dedication to the success of this project has been outstanding."

The USAMRIID Replacement project will be the premier biological defense laboratory for the Department of Defense. The facility will be approximately 870,000 square feet of constructed area, including all electrical, mechanical and other support spaces.

On any construction project, but particularly on a very large project like USAMRIID, worksite hazards are formidable. They include: trenching and excavation; heavy machinery; overhead hazards (cranes, overhead work, etc.); falls from heights; surface slips/falls; onsite vehicular traffic; confined space entry; open flames, welding and cutting; concrete-based hazards; noise; heat and cold stress; scaffolding and personnel lifts; material handling and strains/sprains.

Since Notice to Proceed with construction in 2009, M/T JV has had zero safety incidents.  All elements of the site's safety and health management system met the high expectations of the program.

Corps of Engineers Fort Detrick U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases USAMRIID Voluntary Protection Program