5:53pm

Wed January 18, 2012
Health and Welfare

Safety Award at the Chemical Agent Destruction Site

A national safety award has gone to more than 300 workers who are constructing the chemical–agent disposal facility at the Bluegrass Army Depot.  Work on the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant is expected to reach the halfway point later this year.  Disposal of nerve and mustard agents is scheduled to begin in 2017 and take two to three years to complete.  Michelle Sotak with the U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA presented officials and workers at the plant the Voluntary Protection Program Star Status plaque.  “They have a good program in place..the employees feel comfortable reporting injuries…they also feel comfortable in doing it the right way..not taking the short cut and that plays a big part in the injury rate,” said Sotak.

Sotak says the Osha (OH-sha) team found the injury rate at the agent destruction plant 67 percent below the national average.  Construction worker Mike Todd says the key to safety is no secret .. it’s to get proper training and work together every day.

Project manager, Tom McKinney says the goal is to reach an on-site ‘zero accident status’.

“But I truly believe you can have zero accidents in a construction environment…we do it most days we have zero accidents..what it does take is continued diligence..keeping safety as your number one priority as you go through your day..but we’re gaining ground, but we’re not there yet,” said McKinney.

McKinney realizes safety strategies will change significantly when munitions are brought into the plant.

“You worry about repetitive tasks..you worry about complacency..then you’re dealing with highly toxic chemicals…the whole issue of how do you stay safe…are all your protective equipment working…are the alarms and sensors working..all that becomes critical..we have none of that..no exposure to that at this point,” added McKinney.

Madison County Judge Executive, Kent Clark says area residents, by and large, now have a confidence in the project that they may not have had in the past.

“We know they’re doing the very best job they can do..and safety is first and foremost..and safety that trickles into the residents of the county,” explained Clark.

At the conclusion of the ceremony at the Blue Grass Army Depot, a Voluntary Protection Program flag was raised to the cheers of workers.