A recent report shows accidents at White Sands Missile Range were down 13 percent during fiscal year 2014.
The total number of injuries went down to 166 this fiscal year from 190 during fiscal year 2013, according to an annual rollup chart compiled by the WSMR Safety Office comparing each type of accident between both years.
The safety office credits open communication and engagement with the work force for the decrease in incidents.
“There are numerous ways to contact the safety office. We have suggestion boxes all over post. We check those periodically and take care of the safety concern,” said Robert Duran, Chief of the Garrison Safety Office.
The safety office will let the individual know when their concern has been taken care of, Duran added.
In addition, employees view a daily safety message on their computers, can access safety Power Point presentations and email the safety office from the WSDM website. Employees can also request safety training at their convenience.
“We offer an extensive list of safety training,” said Randy Grunow, WSMR Installation Safety and Nuclear Surety Director. “They can call anytime for our staff to provide training.”
Preventing accidents not only keeps the work force healthy, but also has financial impacts.
“As a rule of thumb, when an employee is out due to an injury it costs the Department of Defense $350 per day. An employee can be off a week or two. That’s a lot of money,” Duran said.
One of the trainings offered addresses slip, trip, and fall (STF) prevention strategies. STF injuries fell from 34 occurrences to 26 this year.
“The biggest thing is situational awareness as they walk around post. Be aware and be careful because we do have some rough patches on post,” Grunow said.
According to Duran, STF injuries can also happen due to bad housekeeping, which causes employees to fall. A prevention strategy is to ensure proper housekeeping during facility inspections and new construction.
Injuries having to do with ergonomics were also greatly reduced this year. Occurrences dropped from 17 last year to five this year. The safety office has dedicated a subcommittee to address these types of injuries after a spike of occurrences last year.
Army Motor Vehicle (AMV) and Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) accidents combined remain the highest occurrences of accidents on the installation. Along with STF accidents, AMV and POV accidents account for nearly half of all accidents on post.
There were a total of 51 AMV and POV accidents this year. According to Duran, most vehicle accidents occur when backing out.
“We drive millions of miles a year at White Sands, from security, DES, and other support vehicles,” said Grunow. “Every year we have driven vehicle accidents down. This year, the overall number stayed the same.”
According to Grunow, most occurrences across all categories generally take place during the final two quarters of the fiscal year when training and testing missions increase. Network Integrated Evaluation, an operational and developmental training, for example, can drive up the population of the installation.
“During the third and fourth quarters, the number of testing and activities climbs meaning more chances of an accident,” Grunow said. “The noontime population can be four or five thousand military and civilian persons.”
Overall, WSMR’s number of accidents mirrors the trends seen by the Army as a whole.