Wolf Creek Dam is abuzz with machinery, often bottlenecked with equipment and vehicles, and work crews move about like ants on the work platform in performance of their duties on this foundation-remediation project. Despite what seems like construction commotion, there hasn’t been a lost-time accident in more than a year.

During this period, more than 700,000 safe-maintenance hours were amassed on the project, mainly due to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and the contractor, Treviicos-Soletanche Joint Venture (TSJV), carefully orchestrating maintenance activities and promoting safety on the job.

“A year without a lost-time accident is a significant accomplishment,” says Bill DeBruyn, Nashville District’s resident engineer at Wolf Creek Dam. “On this project, it is made more significant by the fact that over a one-year period, the contractor worked two 12-hour shifts, and operated roughly 24 pieces of heavy equipment.”

DeBruyn says the difficult work also is compounded for the contractor, which operates in a cramped work space measuring 80-feet wide and 4,000-feet long. “The fact that the contractor was able to control the safety environment and prevent lost-time accidents over this year-long period is indeed commendable,” he stresses.

“Lots of effort, commitment and dedication have been invested to create the safety culture that is present on site,” notes Fabio Santillan, project manager for TSJV. John Schnebelen, Nashville District’s safety manager at Wolf Creek Dam, says a lot of coordination takes place between the Corps and the contractor to foster the safety culture that Santillan mentioned. The coordination includes daily safety meetings, frequent reviews of procedures, and safety inspectors being present on the work platform to watch over the commotion of activity, and identify situations that could lead to unsafe acts or accidents. In addition, employees receive mandatory safety training as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“A continuous presence on the site ensures safety procedures are followed,” Schnebelen says. “A different management representative also joins a safety walk each week. Safety remains our number-one priority. I am very pleased with the success of our accomplishments.”

The project continues to move forward, and officials say safety is important because accidents can hurt people, equipment and even the dam, and also can cause delays.  “At this point, keeping momentum, not losing focus, and maintaining a consistent safety program is our ultimate goal,” Santillan relates.

DeBruyn says the Corps continues to work closely with the contractor to keep safety at the forefront of the project. “Fixing the dam and ensuring public safety hinges on our ability to be safe in every aspect of this project,” asserts DeBruyn. “The Corps will continue to place a very high priority on safety in partnership with the contractor.”