New Orleans District safety specialist Keith Wilson helps ensure safe operations

Published March 4, 2019

Before U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District crews began opening the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway on Feb. 27, safety specialist Keith Wilson played a role in ensuring they were properly prepared to conduct  safe operations.

“I helped them with their activity hazard analysis,” Wilson said, adding that he gets them to tell him what they do and how they do it. 

“As a group we discuss the hazards and the best way to mitigate them.  I review standards, regulations and manuals to ensure our actions are in compliance,” he said. “I try to get them to think about safety and own their program.”

During the safety briefing prior to the opening of the spillway, Wilson led a review of the activity analysis hazard sheets, which were completed by the crewmembers and reviewed by their supervisors prior performing spillway operations.

“Like Col. Clancy (New Orleans District Commander Col. Michael Clancy) said I would rather them go slow and not get as many bays open in a day than to have them go fast and have an accident,” Wilson said. “It’s like they say, ‘Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.’”

The spillway is just one of the facilities Wilson oversees as part of his duties as the Operations Division’s safety specialist for the New Orleans District.

“I support the Operations Division, including the locks, structures, vessels and the Physical Support Branch,” he said. “In 2018, we introduced CE-SOHMS to everyone. Now that we are in 2019, I have great confidence that everyone knows that CE-SOHMS stands for Corps of Engineers Safety and Occupational Health System.”

CE-SCHMS it is the management system of incorporating safety into all business operations to ensure risk is properly managed, he said.

An additional key role for Wilson is to ensure that each facility receives annual safety inspections to ensure they are in compliance with standards, regulations and requirements.

“I do more than just point out what’s wrong,” he said. “I explain the requirements and help them make a plan to get it in compliance.”

In addition to serving as a safety inspector, Wilson conducts safety training to anyone that asks. “This is the best part of my job,” adding, “Safety is contagious just like a smile.” 

As a safety professional, Wilson said, “The most valuable thing I can do is educate a person.  The more our staff knows and understands about safety the more they will use it and not only at work but at home as well.” Safety Is more than just inspections; it is about creating and maintaining a culture.”

Charles H. Melton