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Efforts to maintain workforce safety at Fort Drum, while navigating the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, have been recognized with two U.S. Army Materiel Command Excellence in Safety Awards. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)


Fort Drum earns two AMC awards for achieving excellence in safety


Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Feb. 3, 2021) – Workforce safety remains a top priority at Fort Drum while navigating the particular challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those efforts recently were recognized with two U.S. Army Materiel Command Excellence in Safety Awards.

Paul Queary, a facilities operations specialist with Fort Drum Directorate of Public Works’ Operations and Maintenance Division, earned the Individual Award for Excellence in Safety – Junior Department of the Army Civilian, for fiscal year 2020.

Queary organized a safety stand down event, which complied with COVID-19 safety protocol, for more than 350 employees. Participants properly trained at a variety of stations, including dump truck loading, zoom lifts, skid steer operations and lawn mower safety.

He is also credited with teaching All-Terrain Vehicle and Utility Task Vehicle classes, as well as providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and first aid training for roughly 300 employees. This was critical to remain compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements. DPW recertified and established new, two-year certifications within the workforce through the in-house training.

Coordinating with Industrial Hygiene and the Command Safety Office, Queary ensured that the DPW workforce was compliant with all safety regulations, annual inspections and mandated taskings.

“Paul keeps the entire Operations and Maintenance team safety-conscious throughout the year, and his commitment to the safety program is outstanding,” said Gene Spencer, Operations and Maintenance Division chief. “It’s worth noting that he does this in addition to his regular duties as a facility operation specialist, but Paul will do whatever it takes to keep employees safe.”

In a year where COVID-19 put a constant spotlight on personal and public safety, Spencer said that Queary took on those challenges as well for their organization.

“With all of the new COVID-19 requirements, Paul took it upon himself to make sure that everyone on staff had the proper personal protective equipment, face masks and hand sanitizer they needed to complete their jobs and missions,” he said. “He answered any questions or concerns related to the virus and ensured that the O&M Division met or exceeded all safety and physical distancing requirements.”

Queary also supported DPW’s Utilities Branch and the Buildings and Grounds Branch during two brigade redeployments. By keeping the workforce informed of quarantine barracks, testing sites and construction projects, he minimized employees’ potential exposure to the virus.

“In my opinion, we have a great safety program, but it’s not because of one person,” Queary said. “It starts at the top of DPW with the director and branch chiefs on down, because if it wasn’t for great teamwork all the way around this would never work. It’s all hands on deck.”

Queary said that safety is a year-round effort in his organization because it runs the gamut from general training requirements to specialized – given the number of skilled workers involved.

“I feel lucky because I have never had a problem getting what I need to run the safety program,” he said.

Fort Drum also earned the AMC Exceptional Organization Safety Award – Garrison, for fiscal year 2020.

The focus of the installation’s safety program is on promoting a command climate that embraces safety as an enabler of readiness and contributes to the quality of life for the community.

The award acknowledges the use of unit safety officers for day-to-day safety program promotion and compliance, and the efforts of the Fort Drum Garrison Safety Office (GSO) in providing training, oversight and community outreach.

Throughout the year, the GSO staff offers a variety of safety classes to Soldiers, DoD civilians and family members, while communicating safety awareness messages to the community through the various venues at their disposal.

Although limited in staff with a director and two safety specialists, the GSO executed 24 of the 26 program elements of the Army Safety Program and completed annual Army and Occupational Health inspections of all 643 garrison facilities.

They conducted quarterly compliance assessments of child development centers, evaluated on-post homes for Family Child Care certifications, administered and investigated all garrison accidents, and maintained the installation hazard log.

The GSO is also a key contributor at the quarterly civilian workforce briefings to inform employees with timely and topical safety information. The staff distributed Safety Alerts throughout the year regarding seasonal hazards or concerns and disseminated 40 brochures, flyers and informational products to raise awareness for National Safety Month, changes in OSHA policies and other events.

In fiscal year 2020, the Fort Drum civilian workforce experienced a 58-percent reduction in on-duty recordable injuries and illnesses and recorded its 10th consecutive year without a Class A or B accident.

During the 2020 external evaluation of the installation’s annual full-scale preparedness exercise, the Fort Drum Garrison Safety Office was cited for a “Best Practice” in its development and use of smart cards. These provided continuity and quick reference for an array of contingency and emergency situations.

The Fort Drum Garrison Safety Office’s safety training program provides a 10-hour General Industry OSHA course and program-specific training for collateral duty safety officers in the 10th Mountain Division (LI). Instructors also conduct winter driving and snow blower courses from October through March.

As part of the Army Traffic Safety Training Program, more than 230 Soldiers completed Motorcycle Safety Foundation course training, and 10 Defensive Driving Course sessions were scheduled in 2020.

The Garrison Range Safety Team supported National Guard and Army Reserve training with briefings and range safety officer mentorship, as well as oversight for Canadian armed forces and civilian law enforcement training on post.

As the installation developed COVID-19 protocol and implemented safety measures, organizations such as DPW; Directorate of Human Resources; Directorate of Emergency Services; Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation all contributed to the coordination and response to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Initiatives included the following:

  • DPW assisted with the establishment of drive-up pharmacy service at Guthrie Clinic to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • DHR secured funding for infrared thermometers, personal protective equipment and contingency response kits for screening locations.
  • DPTMS monitored COVID-19 trends within the 350-mile radius and provided guidance on changes to protective measures.
  • DFMWR shifted child development center populations to provide the greatest amount of protection for youths and families.

Joe Semones, Installation and Garrison Safety director, said that the award is a reflection of Soldiers and civilians across Fort Drum who contribute daily to the overall safety of the community.

“This is not the Safety Office award but a garrison award, so everyone here – in one way or another – contributed to the success of their respective safety program,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s their hard work and being safety conscious that deserves recognition.”

AMC award recipients will continue in the Army-level competition later this year. To learn more about the Fort Drum Garrison Safety Office, visit