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Workers at Reserve Center to celebrate 300 days without injury

By Staff | Jul 31, 2013

Injuries in the workplace happen from time to time, some more serious than others.

But when one worksite goes nearly a year without one, that’s something to celebrate.

On Friday, barring something unforeseen, the North Fort Myers/Cape Coral Army Reserve Center will celebrate its 300th day without a time loss injury. Not even to even pull out a bandage from the first aid kit.

That can be credited to the tenacity of the company making sure the workplace is safe and the tenacity of its consultant to make sure safety comes first, officials there said.

The project, which is being done by the Army Corps of Engineers near the Lee County VA Healthcare Center on Diplomat Parkway at Corbett Road, hired U.S. Safety, a Fort Myers firm that assists businesses looking to protect their employees from work place hazards, to be in charge of safety.

“This is unheard of, and for the ACE this is big time,” said Connie Addison, marketing director for U.S. Safety. “They are sending the heavy hitters down here.”

At Friday’s ceremony, the owners of the project will be presented an award, as will U.S. Safety. There will be food and many guests, including the contractors who have completed their work.

This accomplishment would not have occurred without the efforts of Kelly Forrest, the company’s SSHO (Site Safety Help Officer), who has gone above and beyond to make sure people are safe and that all protocols are met, officials said.

“It doesn’t happen a lot. It’s a rare thing to go 100 days without an incident. To go 300 is phenomenal,” Forrest said. “It’s a testament to the people out here taking what we told them seriously.

Among the things the workers do is wear their protective equipment, follow the rules and ask questions when there was a problem she needed to look at, which is what she tells everyone at orientation.

“I’d rather they call and tell me there’s something I need to look at than to go out and do something foolish and get in trouble,” Forrest said, adding that she knows so many people throughout the country she can go to them to answer any safety concern.

And if the workers get out of line, it’s Forrest they have to deal with, and they don’t want to disappoint “mom.”

“If you set the right attitude and set the mark high and put the extra patience out there for all to see, and tell them there are consequences if things don’t go the way they’re supposed to go,” Forrest said. “You positively reinforce it every day.”

If she sees foolishness on the job, she may address it with a joke or a mock look of scorn, or real scorn if the error is serious enough. They key is persistence, Forrest said.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by Frank Subzda, U.S. Safety’s owner.

“She has come up with different ways to encourage people to be compliant. The ACE is like OSHA on steroids, they’re very stringent,” Subzda said. “She takes all the information, put it into a workable format, and get people to buy in. It shows taking a little time and effort pays dividends.”

The $10.8 million center will consist of a 38,000-square-foot training building, complete with offices, classrooms, a gym, a weapons simulations room and a battle assembly area. Four Army Reserve units with a total of 325 soldiers will be stationed at the site.

There will be an 8,000-square-foot organizational maintenance shop and a 2,000-square-foot storage building.

Slightly behind schedule due to a heavy rainy season, the facility is expected to open in October.