From NAVFAC EXWC Public Affairs Office
PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) safety department conducted an industrial hygiene (IH) survey, Aug. 21-25, as part of the command's ongoing efforts to keep Sailors and civilian professionals safe from the exposures of occupational health hazards.
IH is the applied science that evaluates and controls occupational health hazards including sound levels, heat, light, hazardous materials and chemical compounds. The main focus of the NAVFAC EXWC IH survey is to increase awareness of any safety concerns in the command and implement the necessary controls to correct the hazard.
Safety officers, hygienists and technicians conduct IH surveys to assist in protecting service members and government-employed civilians by determining what personal protection equipment (PPE) is recommended when hazards are encountered, according to Elizabeth Bradford, NAVFAC EXWC safety officer.
"It's everyone responsibility to make recommendations for safety. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't, "said Bradford. "As the safety officer, it's my team's responsibility to act on your concerns through evaluating and monitoring workspace [implementations] and place safety controls on known hazards to improve the overall safety of all stakeholders."
Engineers and industry workers can protect themselves by wearing PPE while performing tasks that could cause harm to their eyes, hands, or other parts of their bodies. Determining the amount of exposure and wearing the proper PPE prevents or reduces the long-term medical damage done by exposure.
"Supervisors ensure that their people wear the correct personal protective equipment. PPE is very important as it is the last line of defense against a hazard," said Joseph Carmody, EXWC safety specialist. "During the IH survey, our team, with the assistance of department safety representatives, evaluated work spaces for hazardous concerns. Our goal is to protect our people from any safety issues inherent to an area. If necessary, personnel are removed from workspaces if the danger is too great."
EXWC Capital Improvements Research, Development, Test and Evaluation division participated in the IH survey. Their Aircraft Engine Simulation Facility (AESF) emits extremely high decibels during operations. Dave Wilson, a NAVFAC EXWC engineering technician, operates the AESF to test flight deck material resistance to heat and pressure blasts. The simulation is to scale replicating the violent environment such material exposed to aboard Navy warships.
"It's plenty loud in my work lab," said Wilson during his safety brief for the visiting EXWC safety officer. "It's important that you wear double hearing protection while in the lab and do not touch anything without protective gloves."
Temperatures of test material can exceed 350 degrees and remain high for up to an hour, according to Wilson.
The IH survey records temperature and sound data to determine if other safety controls can be implemented to decrease any likelihood of personnel injuries.
The intense sound output of the AESF is estimated to range between 120-130 decibels. This is louder than a rock concert, which is estimated to be 110-115 decibels by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
"Many safety rules and policies are written in blood," said Capt. Joe Greeson, acting commanding officer NAVFAC EXWC. "We have an obligation to our personnel and their families to maintain a safe working environment. Our successful industrial hygiene survey is a testament to the dedication and hard work of all EXWC professionals. Safety is not only a goal. It must also be a lifestyle."
NAVFAC EXWC is a command of more than 1,300 dedicated federal employees, contractors, and military personnel who provide specialized facilities engineering, technology solutions, and life-cycle management of expeditionary equipment to the Navy, Marine Corps, federal agencies, and other Department of Defense-supported commands.