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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2021

Safety program at Tobyhanna makes the grade

By Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

Safety program at Tobyhanna makes the grade | Article | The United States Army

Tobyhanna Army Depot’s Safety and Occupational Health Office (SOHO) is earning rave reviews for its efforts to ensure a healthy workplace for more than 3,700 team members.

The SOHO team successfully led Team Tobyhanna through a sweeping, four-day audit by external Department of Defense (DoD) officials earlier this fall. Representatives from the Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Directorate of Safety were on site to evaluate the effectiveness of Tobyhanna’s safety and occupational health program. CECOM personnel noted multiple depot best practices during the visit.

One such best practice was Tobyhanna’s extensive COVID-19 mitigation strategies, especially the COVID-19 Task Force, praised by auditors for its comprehensive methods to keep employees safe during the unprecedented pandemic. The cross-functional group, which meets regularly, is charged with ensuring depot policies are focused on employee safety and in accordance with applicable DoD, federal, state and local public health guidance. Among the Task Force’s accomplishments is the procurement of more than 7,000 face coverings to distribute to personnel and visitors; the installation of ionization systems and self-check temperature stations; and the deep cleaning of nearly 1M square feet of depot property. The Task Force also spearheaded a detailed contact tracing process on-post to prevent the virus’ spread.

Auditors also lauded the depot’s lifting devices inspection program. The SOHO has three full-time equipment inspectors who maintain the program. The trio examine depot equipment such as overhead cranes and pallet jacks for operability and safety to Army and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

“Our mission covers a variety of equipment. Basically, if it lifts or holds weight, we inspect it and make sure it is safe for our depot teammates,” said Michael Lazowski.

Lazowski and his co-workers, Darren Stout and David Huntz, conduct an average of 600 inspections per month for Tobyhanna equipment as well as assets belonging to tenant activities. They also perform physical load tests, inspection of fall protection harnesses and provide support for unforeseen requirements, such as re-inspections of new and repaired equipment.

Stout says depot personnel can help make the program run even more smoothly.

“We have a great working relationship with our customers; however, there are two things they can do to make our process even easier for all involved. First, they can proactively schedule their inspections, which helps us with our demanding schedule; and second, they can self-report in advance when they need a reinspection. Both of these actions are small, but important, ways to help us serve our customers better.”

Lazowski says there is never a dull moment in the life of an equipment inspector.

“This position allows us to experience the many different parts of Tobyhanna’s mission and facilities – and we know what we do matters, which makes it even better.”

Several opportunities for improvement were also identified by CECOM, according to Bilotta.

“During the audit, it was noted that our existing Safety Hazard and Near Miss Reporting process was effective, but could be further improved. In the coming months, our team will be working to streamline this process.”

Reflecting upon another successful audit, Bilotta noted SOHO could not do it alone.

“The workforce does a great job making safety a priority and we attribute our successes to their effort and enthusiasm.”

Tobyhanna’s safety program adheres to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 45001 safety standard, recognized across the world as benchmark for workplace safety. Tobyhanna was the first organization within the Department of Defense to obtain the ISO 45001 accreditation in 2019.

Employee safety is a fundamental part of Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, TOBY2028. The plan aligns with the depot's four strategic focus areas: Investing in Our People, C5ISR Readiness, Shape the Future and Strategic Communications; and aims to posture the organization for future success.

External auditors will return to Tobyhanna in January and February for further reviews.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,700 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.