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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany receives 2019 Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence Award

By Jennifer Parks, Public Affairs Specialist | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | March 22, 2021

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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany was recently honored with the Fiscal Year 2019 Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence Award in the Off-Duty Program category.

“All the credit for this special award goes to the MCLB Albany Marines,” said Merrill E. Dickinson Jr., installation safety manager, MCLB Albany. “Marines in this command apply the principles of risk management to off-duty activities and that makes the difference, especially while driving, which is the most hazardous task they perform.”

The Off-Duty category includes all Navy and Marine Corps units and activities that have significantly reduced the damage to mission readiness caused by private motor vehicle, recreation and/or off-duty mishaps.

“While on-duty, Marines know how to recognize and control hazards to reduce or eliminate risk. They use the same simple thought process when they are off-duty and ask the important questions: ‘What can hurt me and what am I going to do about it?’” Dickinson said.

MCLB Albany has a long-standing reputation as having one of the most comprehensive and credible mishap prevention programs in the Department of Defense. In addition to earning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s prestigious Voluntary Protection Program Star Worksite designation, the base has received at least one safety award from Marine Corps Installations East, Headquarters Marine Corps or Department of the Navy nearly every year since 2003.

The base also won the Marine Corps Achievement in Safety Award for its FY19 mishap prevention program.

Bravo Zulu to Mr. Dickinson and crew for MCLB Albany receiving the Secretary of the Navy’s Safety Award! This is a momentous achievement for the all of MCLB Albany and tenants,” said Col. Michael Fitzgerald, commanding officer, MCLB. “Winning this award requires a team effort from everyone aboard the base. Mr. Merrill Dickinson led the safety team that guided, trained and mentored all base and tenant command personnel resulting in MCLB Albany winning the SECNAV’s award.” 

“The base, through the safety program, will continue to find ways to improve our safety to preserve the health and protection of our teammates,” Fitzgerald added.

MCLB Albany began its VPP journey in July 2009. The base is one of only a handful of VPP Star worksites in the Marine Corps.

The base’s record of sustained superior performance in preventing injuries and property damage is unparalleled. It is a testimony to the commitment to mishap prevention and a strong culture driven by the Marine and civilian-Marine workforce.

“This award is for every Marine assigned to this command,” Lt. Col. Joseph Ray, executive director, MCLB, said. “Serving in our Corps is about performing to our high standards of excellence and making good decisions using sound judgement. This is as important while off-duty as it is on-duty.” 

“Every Marine in the command earned this award and I am proud to be part of a command serving with Marines who make good decisions and who look out for each other on-duty and off-duty,” Ray continued.

Navy Secretary Kenneth J. Braithwaite recently announced the recipients of the FY 2019 SECNAV Safety Excellence Awards, honoring MCLB with the Off-Duty category award, in ALNAV 081/20.

“There has been no more vivid or illustrative time than now to underscore that safe and healthy workplaces are paramount to ensuring Marines, Sailors, and civil servants have the opportunity to thrive and succeed in service to our nation,” ALNAV 081/20 states. “The health of our workforce and material condition our assets relies on each individual investing every effort to make well-informed and deliberate risk decisions, both on- and off-duty. We must work together to identify root causes of non-combat fatalities, injuries, mishaps and near misses, create lasting solutions to avoid reoccurrence, and share our lessons learned to ensure the warfighting readiness our great nation demands.”

“The prestigious Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence Award recognizes Navy and Marine Corps Units that achieved unparalleled safety and occupational program performance. We must make a determined effort to learn from them and one another to improve the safety and health of our Navy-Marine Corps Team,” the announcement added.

Senior leadership at MCLB Albany said off-duty traffic-related threats are the highest risk operations to the installation’s Marines. Every Marine fatality since 1999 in the command and aboard the base has been traffic-related, with one exception. The command did not experience a Marine fatality for more than 12 years and the FY 19 off-duty injury rate was 0.8, the lowest in 10 years. 

Protecting Marines from traffic-related threats comes through leader involvement, risk management, non-commissioned officer intervention, training and awareness and emphasizing there is no such thing as routine. 

In his command safety policy, Fitzgerald amplifies the expectation in Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1-0 that “Marines (and Civilian Marines) Take Care of Their Own.”

The base’s commanding officer effectively appoints personnel, through the safety policy, to act as safety officers for the individuals around them. He tasks them with being their brother’s keeper.

“Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany exists to provide support services that enable our tenants to accomplish their mission to equip the Marine Warfighter,” the policy says. “Safety is critical to mission success. That means we must include risk management as part of every task, process, and operation – both on-duty and after-hours. In my command, safety is equal in importance to production, schedule, and cost.

“Mishap prevention is a shared responsibility between individuals and their leader,” the policy adds. 

The SECNAV Safety Excellence Awards were established to recognize and congratulate those Navy and Marine Corps commands that have demonstrated exceptional and sustained safety excellence. Navy or Marine Corps commands with an acquisition mission may nominate up to two teams or offices per command.

Nominees must have made significantly greater contributions and impacts integrating safety into their programs, projects or systems than typically expected.

“The objective is to highlight activities that have excelled in improving warfighting and mission readiness through professional risk management in the elimination of preventable deaths, injuries, occupational illnesses, infrastructure and materiel losses, and mission degradation. The awards emphasize the unique importance of safety as a top DON priority,” SECNAVINST 5100.10K, which outlines the background and nomination process for the award, states.


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