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The Psychologically Healthy Workplace 

Pacific Shipyards International, NISMO Division 
2004 Award Winner: Small Business Category

The Pacific International Shipyards Division at the NAVSEA Inactive Ships On-Site Maintenance Office ("NISMO!") is responsible for maintenance and preservation of inactive ships under contract with the Navy. NISMO is a perfect example of how providing process improvements in safety and operations, employee involvement in support of organizational goals, meaningful employment, career development opportunities and a unique family support structure can bring about world-class performance, maximum profitability, and a healthy and safe work environment for their employees.

This year's application featured improvements since their 2003 entry, and best in class results that were achieved. The showcase of safety efforts at NISMO this year is passing the 5-year point with NO LOST-TIME INJURIES! This milestone equates to over three-quarters of a million hours. NISMO has laborers who do some of the most hazardous and difficult marine industrial work possible along with maintenance, electrical work, ship-fitting, special marine and pipe welding, mechanics and small engine repair, painting, chipping, cleaning and preservation, to name a few of the things going on out here. And all of it safely!"

Considering the crane and heavy equipment operations, regular hazardous materials removals, and dangerous work daily this is a phenomenal record for this type of business. One factor that accounts for this amazing accomplishment is the use of action planning to achieve their goals. One plan in use is the continuous training of personnel. Over 1700 hours of training in 2003 alone, and over 1400 as of June 30, 2004. This commitment to preparing their people shows the operational aspect of their motto: SAFETY FIRST-PRODUCTION SECOND.

Their safety program features several best practices. First, there is a commitment to training, especially for new hires. They use simulated emergency drills as well as classroom training to prepare people properly. Second, all new workers are paired up with experienced people. They take their mentoring seriously and no one is turned loose on the job alone. Third, NISMO has two Safety Technicians preview all work and provide that "extra pair of eyes" needed in dark passageways and on difficult projects.

In addition, they have three Quality Inspectors to review and follow up on all completed work. What makes NISMO successful is the role the supervisors play with respect to the safety of their people, especially new hires, but with senior team members too. That's because they know most accidents come in the first five years or the last five years on the job. It's a reverse bell curve due to lack of experience and then lackadaisical experience. That's why they have daily workplace inspections. In a job on the USS Mount Vernon, they had to de-fuel 40,000 gallon tanks, pressure-wash and clean them perfectly, and then inspect them.

During one inspection, like a motionless snake waiting for a stranger in the darkness, an almost invisible black hose was waiting for Woodrow "Sonny" Jones and his extra pair of eyes. "You know what the hardest thing about safety is? It's ensuring all the accidents don't happen by doing your job every day," said the Safety and Hazardous Materials Technician. "We brought in a contractor to remove all the refrigerant from the A/C units. When they strung their hose to reclaim the Freon, they ran it over 300 feet across passageways like a tightrope, hard to see and great to trip over. Now if there's something I can trip over I will, and others will too, so I stopped the work, moved the rig, and had them string it overhead. Gotta keep the NISMO record going," said Jones, NISMO workers are not allowed to do anything until they're trained well and regardless of experience, every new job is reviewed for possible safety hazards before it is performed.

A note of the times, they have improved security with new photo ID cards, concrete barriers to public access points, and anti-terrorism training again emphasizing their amazing focus on health, safety and security for its employees.



Hawaii Psychological Association
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