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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2023

NUWC Division, Keyport employees set benchmark for ORM excellence

By Frank Kaminski, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport

The recent installation of an awning by a dedicated team at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport’s Acoustic Test Lab serves as a prime example of operational risk management done right, according to Kip Reid, a safety specialist at the command.

Installed above an upper entrance to the Transducer Automated Test Facility at a height of more than 30 feet, the awning was needed to provide shelter from the elements and keep the entryway dry during bad weather. Given the safety risks involved in working at such height, the team worked closely with the command’s Safety Branch to ensure a safe installation.

The Acoustic Operations Test and Analysis Branch, to which the Acoustic Test Lab belongs, is known for its frequent collaboration with the Safety Branch and commitment to the ORM process.

“They’re a shining example of what we would like to see NUWC Division, Keyport as a whole think about and practice as ORM,” said Reid. “They’re an example of using ORM, especially with the [job hazard analysis] process, to ensure work is performed safely.”

ORM is a process for reducing risks by identifying, analyzing and managing potential hazards. A key part of ORM is conducting a JHA, which involves evaluating specific job tasks to identify hazards, assess risks and implement mitigation measures.

Six individuals from the Acoustic Test Lab were involved in the awning project: Electronics Technicians Adam Davis, Alejandro Kelly, Roger Diehl and Jason Guy; Systems Engineer Lili Beltran; and Mechanical and Process Engineer Cristina Javier.

The correct awning was identified and purchased with help from Ryan Davidson, a project manager in the Facilities Branch. However, facilities was unable to perform the installation due to not having proper lift and aerial qualifications or expedited contract means to support, so the employees decided to do it themselves, said Reid.

Since their branch had no established procedures for this type of project, they consulted often with Safety Branch team members throughout the process.

NUWC Division, Keyport Lead Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Eric Ragan said he and Reid helped the team “get to yes” by walking them step by step through the JHA process, which revealed a range of potential risks, including injury from pinch points, falling objects, ladder mishaps and workers falling from significant heights.

The team conducted multiple pre-installation walkthroughs and underwent a safety briefing as soon as Reid approved the JHA.

During the installation, various fall protection measures were instituted. The team wore personal fall protection gear and rented a scissor lift to provide a secure elevated platform for working at heights. To ensure the safety of those below, they placed danger tape around the area and built a protective barrier at ground level to prevent falling objects from reaching bystanders.

Acoustic Operations Test and Analysis Branch Head Dan Strong said the job “was completed efficiently, effectively and safely, holding true to [the command]'s safety motto ‘Mission First, Safety Always.’”

Strong praised the six employees involved: “This team of dedicated professionals routinely follows operational risk management and internal and external safety policies, procedures and best practices,” he said.

Strong added that he shares Reid’s perception of the positive working relationship between his branch and safety.

“I think at times people are reluctant to reach out to safety because they think it would be burdensome, but that has not been the case for us,” he said.


About Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport
NUWC Division, Keyport provides advanced technical capabilities for test and evaluation, in-service engineering, maintenance and industrial base support, fleet material readiness, and obsolescence management for undersea warfare to expand America’s undersea dominance.