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Volume 46 | Issue 7 | August 2004

News

Close Calls System a Success

By Daesha Roberts
Special to the X-Press

The Close Call system established at Dryden has given NASA employees an effective way to assess potentially dangerous situations.

The program was instituted at Dryden in 1999 and was modeled after a similar safety program at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"A close call is a near miss," said Etasha Arnold of Platinum International. "It's a hazard in which an injury had high potential of happening, but didn't."

In order to address these near misses, witnesses to hazards are provided a way of reporting the incidents. Close call hazard forms are located in every hallway of each major Dryden facility, and may also be found on the Dryden Intranet.  Close Call reports are confidential.

The most common close calls are traffic-related. The parking lot in front of Building 4800, for example, had a traffic pattern in which only two vehicles out of ten made complete stops at the stop lines. The stop lines were meant to clarify traffic issues where three directions of traffic meet.

In order to assess this hazard, safety officers partnered with Dryden Safety and Security and have since established a Make Dryden Safer traffic steering committee. Together, the team constructed traffic warning signs for pedestrians and ordered an increase in the number of security patrols.

In addition, Close Call reports have led to other safety procedural changes designed to help employees avoid or prevent such hazards as fires, trip/slip/fall areas, electrical and chemical exposure. Each hazard identified by a Close Call report is immediately removed, supervisors are notified and, if necessary, security precautions are taken.

"One of the things I'm personally proud of is the fact that I get a direct view of the safety aspects of Dryden's culture," said Arnold. "It's been an effective catalyst for people to use in reporting concerns that we're able to take care of as quickly as possible."

Safety manager Dean LeBret, of Platinum International, said the process has proved successful.

"It's the best system at NASA for having a process that is complete and responsive to the user. Every call gets reviewed, and with each call Dryden is made safer," he said.

Since the program's inception about 660 Close Call hazard reports have been witnessed and submitted and more than 600 of those have been resolved.

"Our target," said LeBret, "is to have zero standing."