Anniston Army Depot worker

Anniston Army Depot worker Charles McComb assembles a tank at the facility in Bynum.

Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

The Anniston Army Depot recently earned the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s Industrial Operations Award for the 2017 fiscal year.

“Anniston’s efforts and growing safety culture have supported some of the most significant reductions for injury rates across TACOM in recent history and that trend has continued through the first quarter of FY 2018,” Adam Crafard, director of safety for the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, was quoted as saying in a press release.

According to the depot’s safety office chief Drew Ramsey, the recognition comes after workers at the Anniston installation put into place dozens of safety upgrades and policy changes over the last four years.

Ramsey said he took the job in September 2014, and the safety office historically had an issue with turnover. But once leaders put a staff in place, he said, “We decided we would move forward and make ourselves standout.”

Those changes included sharp increases in what is called lockout/tagout procedures. These are measures taken by workers to prevent accidents like electrical shocks or falling machinery.

The depot had 5,289 such procedures in the 2017 fiscal year, which was a 25 percent increase from the previous year and a 99 percent increase from FY 2015, according to a release from the depot. Ramsey said Friday that the depot now has 6,000 lockout/tagout procedures.

A machinery mechanic at the depot died in 2016 while repairing a scissor lift. An Army report found that the worker failed to take precautions that would have prevented the lift from falling down on him.  

But overall, the number of incidents at the depot has steadily declined over the last four years, Ramsey said. For example, from the 2016 to 2017 fiscal years, the depot recorded a 28 percent drop in hearing loss cases and a 17 percent decrease in injuries without hearing loss, according to Ramsey.

Other new safety measures from the depot include:

- A program called Target Zero that uses an inspection team composed of the heads of various safety departments. That team conducts a short-notice walkthrough of a work site and briefs supervisors of their findings.

- One hundred fall-protection upgrades. Ramsey said these changes are part of a two-phase project. The first saw more than $2 million spent between 2014 and 2015 for upgrades inside the depot’s buildings. The second phase could see about $14 million spent for safety upgrades on roofs and workstations where falls higher than four feet are possible.

- A automated reporting system that allows supervisors to manipulate data to find potential safety risks. Ramsey said the new system also provides a single location for all of the depot’s safety audits, procedures and manuals, which had previously been scattered across different departments and software programs.


Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_Star.

I'm the assistant metro editor for The Anniston Star. I edit, post online stories and write the occasional story.