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News > Forward-looking safety office, director, superintendent receive accolades
Forward-looking safety office, director, superintendent receive accolades

Posted 1/14/2011   Updated 1/14/2011 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Geoff Buteau
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

1/14/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The close of any year and the beginning of a new one is a cause for celebration, but the 66th Air Base Group Safety Office has even more of a reason to celebrate this new year. They learned in December the organization and an individual had received Air Force Materiel Command-wide recognition for their efforts, and their director was elected to the board of a Voluntary Protection Program agency.

Senior Master Sgt. Shelley Barton, the safety superintendent with the safety office, received the Category I Outstanding Senior Safety Program Manager of the Year award from AFMC. She was also nominated to compete at the Air Force level for the Safety Career Professional of the Year award.

"I was honored to have been selected for the individual awards, but I couldn't have done it without the support of the entire safety team," she said.

According to her supervisor, Galen Williams, director of the 66th Air Base Group Safety Office, Sergeant Barton is very meticulous, analytic and she's always on top of things.

"She's the go-to safety professional and one of the best ones that I've ever worked with -- if not the best," he said.

While Mr. Williams provides the overall vision and leadership for the safety office, he said Sergeant Barton manages the day-to-day activities of safety programs, like compliance inspections, motorcycle safety and training.

"She's always thinking ahead in the management of these programs and taking care of the personnel that make up the base's ground safety team," he said.

Most importantly, according to Mr. Williams, with Sergeant Barton's vast experience in safety operations, she's able to meet the technically specific safety challenges presented by the different program executive offices at Hanscom.

"If you give her a task, she's going to take care of it, no matter how technical," he said.

These same characteristics are shared by the rest of the safety office and this is why they earned a chance to compete at the Air Force level for the Air Force Chief of Safety Outstanding Achievement Award for Ground Safety (Small Wing Organization).

"I am very proud of our team winning the award two years in a row," said Sergeant Barton. "We have a well rounded team of professionals and each member of the safety staff has their area of expertise. When you put all those talents together, we form a really efficient team."

Even the director, Mr. Williams, earned an accolade when he was elected to the Voluntary Protection Program Participants Association Region 1 (New England) board of directors in December for his work with VPP. Over the last few years, he's been partnering with other industry safety professionals and documenting and executing best practices, which ultimately led Hanscom to become the first entire Air Force installation to be awarded a VPP Star Certification.

The VPPPA is a national nonprofit organization made up of a network of safety professionals applying Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards to their individual organization's safety programs where members can collaborate, mentor, share and implement effective safety processes and best practices across the region.

The best example of how VPP has changed the safety culture at Hanscom is the hazard reporting tool, Mr. Williams explained.

"Now, everyone is a safety officer," he said. "Each person can identify a potential hazard, log on to the CenterNet and report the hazard, as well as the observer's best suggestion for how to fix it."

It's this program, and ones like it that Mr. Williams has jump-started, that earned him the support of his peers within the VPPPA New England region community, electing him to the regional board last month.

Praise even comes for Mr. Williams from agencies like the Department of Energy's Office of Health, Safety and Security. In August 2010, Mr. Williams spoke at a VPPPA conference in Orlando about Hanscom's journey in implementing VPP processes. Carol Sikora, a program specialist with the department, said Mr. Williams' workshop at the conference was the most enjoyable and informative.

"They were very inspiring to me personally and I would be honored to have Hanscom as a VPP mentor to DOE," she said.

The safety teams plans to continue to work hard throughout 2011. Sergeant Barton and the 66th Air Base Group Safety Office will learn if they won awards at the Air Force level no later than April.

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