Employees got a chance to test their forklift driving skills, learn firsthand how to get someone out of a rolled over vehicle and see a step-by-step demonstration on chainsaw maintenance as part of a safety stand-down put on by the Directorate of Public Works Aug. 26.
The purpose of the event was to educate the workforce and arm them with the skills needed to protect themselves while on the job, said John Howe, chief operations and maintenance. “We wanted to be proactive and raise awareness on safety.”
The goal, he said, was to get a captive audience where people learn something new — something more interactive than your average presentation. “We wanted to make it come alive.”
Howe said the event would pay for itself ten-fold in terms of time off work and that employees will learn about safety not just in their particular job, but in a more well-rounded sense as well, since all employees will get a chance to see demonstrations in a variety of fields.
“We’re trying to bring the subject of safety to the surface,” he said. “If you feel confident in your environment and in control of your environment, accidents usually don’t occur.”
Mara Hupfeld, a gardener with DPW, said she learned some things at the event that could help her stay safe on the job. One trick she learned for putting in protective ear plugs is to tug on her earlobe so that they get inserted properly. “Someone could be working in the field 10, 20 years and learn something here that may be useful,” she said.
Hupfeld also was surprised to know how much pressure is being put on her body when jumping from a vehicle — something many workers do regularly. A special pad showed that a person of 60 kilos can put a half ton of force on their body when jumping, which demonstrated just how much wear and tear a person’s knees, for example, might withstand if the activity is done repeatedly over time.
“We’re trying to raise awareness as we go through our job hazard safety analysis,” said Eddie Johnson, director, DPW.
Many garrison and German agencies made the event possible, said Christine Mbakeh, chief operations and maintenance safety coordinator with DPW. They provided giveaways, demonstrations, vision and hearing tests as well as their expertise.
The Directorate of Emergency Services, Safety, the Occupational Health Nurse and the American Red Cross contributed to the event, as well as the German Federal Forestry service, the Polizei and several other host nation agencies.