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USACE, Omaha District conducts employee safety perception survey through National Safety Council

Omaha District
Published June 3, 2021
USACE Safety and Occupational Health Management System

USACE Safety and Occupational Health Management System

Earlier this year U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District employees participated in a safety perception survey designed to provide a comprehensive, sensitive leading indicator metrics that assess District safety culture, identify strengths and opportunities, and gaps in the District safety management system. The Omaha District worked with the National Safety Council, a non-profit public service organization which promotes health and safety in the U.S. to use their “Safety Barometer” employee perception survey system.  

The NSC Safety Barometer is a validated safety survey, asking respondents to indicate their level of agreement with 50 standardized general safety statement assessing safety management system health and safety culture.  These statement describe activities or conditions related to administrative, operational, technical, and cultural elements of the safety management system, representing six fundamental safety performance categories or areas of safety excellence:  Management Commitment, Supervisor Engagement, Employee Involvement, Safety Support Activities, Safety Support Climate, and Organizational Climate.

The NSC provided survey results to the District in mid-March and provided a survey brief to District leadership and corporate board members in late April along with several recommendations.

Col. Mark Himes, District commander, provided employees a post survey communication and some follow-on actions. 

“I would like to share some results information, and some initial survey results actions the District will take to continually improve safety and occupational health within our organization,” he wrote.

According to the NSC database the Omaha District scores were above average. This is not a national average but rather a higher performing sample of organizations that have selected to proactively survey their employees.

Some survey results:                                                                                                                                              

2021 TOP 5 STRENGTHS:

  1. Significance of job stress for employees.
  2. Safety standards relative to job production standards.
  3. Priority of safety relative to completing job tasks.
  4. Availability of safety manager/specialist to provide assistance.
  5. Supervisors behaving in accord with safe job procedures.

2021 TOP 5 FOCUS AREAS:

  1. Management setting annual safety goals.
  2. Presence of safety training in the new employee/workplace indoctrination.
  3. Frequency of detailed and regularly scheduled safety inspections.
  4. Employees being involved in safety and health practices.
  5. Employees identifying and eliminating hazards.

According to Jeff Skrivanek, district safety and occupational health manager, this year is the first time that the NSC survey has been used by the District.  The NSC survey is more customizable to the USACE workforce and missions.

“This survey is a really pro-active effort. We are trying to get a feel for what the climate is across the enterprise and what the employees think,” Skrivanek said. “This helps management and allows them to make any necessary changes or adjustments."

Skrivanek said that so far about ten districts have used the NSC survey and that he is pleased with the NSC “Safety Barometer” employee perception survey system/process. 

Approximately 30 percent of some 1200 employees across the District took the survey, Skrivanek said, and added that he hopes to see more participation in the future.

“This tool is an important part of safety management systems. These perception surveys give employees a voice and allow leadership to hear their voice and see where improvements need to be made,” Skrivanek said.  

In his email, Himes outlined some of the next steps which include further survey review and putting together an action planning team. Based on proposed actions, organizational goals and objective will be set that meet the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound.

“Omaha District’s future safety efforts will ensure that continued maintenance and enhancement of the safety system develops in line with our organization’s strengths and weaknesses,” Himes wrote.  “I would like to personally thank everyone’s efforts towards safety and occupational health in this multi- missioned District.  Your commitment and participation towards safety makes a difference.  Safety truly is a continuous team effort across the board.”

June is National Safety Month and marks the 25th anniversary of this annual, educational campaign. The District’s safety office will be hosting several safety communication and education sessions throughout the month promoting safety in the workplace and beyond.