Marine Link
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Army Corps and Dredging Industry Sign MOU to Improve Safety Culture

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

June 4, 2021

From left: Tiffany Burroughs, Chief of Navigation, USACE; Richard Balzano, Executive Director, Dredging Contractors of America; Al Wong, Deputy Chief of Safety, USACE; Michael Gerhardt, Executive Director, CDMCS; MG William H. Graham, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, USACE; Keith Jones, Floating Plant Manager, USACE; Devon Carlock, President, CDMCS; Tom Smith, Chief of Operations and Regulatory, USACE; and Mark Atkins, Chief of Safety, USACE. (Photo: USACE)

From left: Tiffany Burroughs, Chief of Navigation, USACE; Richard Balzano, Executive Director, Dredging Contractors of America; Al Wong, Deputy Chief of Safety, USACE; Michael Gerhardt, Executive Director, CDMCS; MG William H. Graham, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, USACE; Keith Jones, Floating Plant Manager, USACE; Devon Carlock, President, CDMCS; Tom Smith, Chief of Operations and Regulatory, USACE; and Mark Atkins, Chief of Safety, USACE. (Photo: USACE)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is working with industry partners to create and sustain an injury-free workplace and safety-first culture for the men and women who work in dredging and marine construction.

On June 3 in Washington, D.C., the USACE inked a strengthened partnership agreement with the national safety voice for the dredging and marine construction industry, the Council for Dredging and Marine Construction Safety (CDMCS), and the groups discussed ways to meet shared safety goals. CDMCS’ Executive Director Michael Gerhardt and President Devon Carlock signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) alongside Major General William H. Graham, USACE’s Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations. Accompanying MG Graham were Chief of Operations and Regulatory Tom Smith, Chief of Safety Mark Atkins, and other key personnel from USACE HQ.

“The dredging industry and its senior leaders are taking its safety partnership with USACE to the next level,” Gerhardt said. “Since 2008 we have worked closely with open, honest conversation and uncompromising resolve. This joint understanding formalizes our working relationship for the future, paving the way for new initiatives and a 'one crew, one family' mindset that will improve and sustain a positive safety culture for the entire industry. Safety is our top priority.”

Carlock said the signing is a critical step toward unifying government and contractors together in safety. “Our members are committed to working safely in harsh, unpredictable environments. We will continue to develop and implement new technologies to further assist us in our efforts towards zero lives lost. The CDMCS remains dedicated to creating safety protocols and facilitating collaboration between our members and USACE partners.”

The two organizations formally agreed to continue their longstanding, proactive efforts to promote and develop strategies for creating positive safety culture, to share best practices and lessons learned, to identify and promote opportunities for safety training, continuous learning, and professional development, to ensure safe dredging and marine construction operations near underwater gas and hazardous liquid pipelines and to intensify engagement.

In the meeting Gerhardt and Carlock announced the immediate formation of the CDMCS High-Hazard Task Force, a working group aimed at reducing serious incidents and fatalities from high-risk activities with enhanced continual training, de-risking through innovative engineering solutions, and engaging in frequent dialogue, building upon the positive site visits to industry dredges made by district and division commanders over the past month. Monthly task force meetings will commence this summer.

In addition, it was agreed that the CDMCS Pipeline Task Force will resume its inter-agency, public-private meetings this summer in order to ensure the accuracy of underwater pipelines in federal channels across the nation. Recent deepening projects have shown that this issue remains a significant navigational challenge and safety risk to human life and the environment, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dredging owners and CEOs from around the country are celebrating the MOU.

Bill Dutra, CEO of The Dutra Group, said, “The Dutra Group is proud to have been one of the original members of the CDMCS. We have supported the organization for well over a decade, and we continue our support, as it advances safety awareness and protocols throughout our industry. We are very pleased to have been selected by CDMCS as the inaugural Safety Contractor of the Year in 2018. Our Safety Manager, Howard Cooper, serves as a Vice President on the CDMCS Board. Our company continues to provide input and leadership to assist with CDMCS’ safety efforts, and I am personally involved with any assistance that I can render. I believe it is important to lead by example with regards to safety, just as we do in building the strongest possible safety culture here at The Dutra Group.”

Ashley Kerns, President of Mike Hooks, LLC, said, “CDMCS has been a direct and positive influence on the safety culture at Mike Hooks, LLC. It provides a forum for the brightest minds in dredging to discuss safety, develop best practices, and engage with the state and federal agencies, especially the Army Corps. Less than a week into the pandemic it began sharing late-breaking information and resources that kept our crews and management safe and healthy. Its leadership on underwater pipelines has brought attention and clarity to a decades-old challenge. Mike Hooks proudly supports this agreement being signed today.”

Frederick Paup, Chairman and Executive Vice President of Manson Construction Co., said, “Today, Manson Construction Co. congratulates the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and CDMCS for jointly signing this Memorandum of Understanding which recognizes USACE and the dredging industry’s commitment to cooperatively promote, develop and communicate safe standards and practices for our people and families program-wide. The partnership between CDMCS and USACE serves to strengthen Manson’s safety culture and its contractual engagement with USACE.”

Jackie Luedtke Borozan, Vice President of Luedtke Engineering Company, said, “CDMCS has been an invaluable resource for my company as we battled the pandemic. There is no question that the forward-leaning posture and resources of the CDMCS improved our crisis management response to COVID and general workplace safety culture. The synergy that CDMCS has created between dredging companies and USACE has delivered real tangible results that have saved lives and kept us working. I join my colleagues in proudly celebrating the signing of this MOU.”

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