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Sat, Sept. 19

Structural maintenance<br>team receives safety award

GC VILLAGE — It’s been more than 2 1/2 years since the Grand Canyon National Park’s structural maintenance team has seen an accident on the job.

Grand Canyon National Park superintendent Joe Alston, right, gets ready to present the Director’s Employee Safety Achievement Award to maintenance safety team leader Pablo Garza and the rest of the staff Wednesday.

Painting, carpentry, roofing and masonry services were provided through thousands of man hours over that time period. Last week, the National Park Service recognized the 13-member maintenance team with the Director’s Employee Safety Achievement Award.

"You are to be commended for going 913 days without an accident," NPS director Fran Mainella wrote in a letter to team leader Pablo Garza. "This is a noteworthy accomplishment considering that 300 employees reside at the South Rim and expend 27,000 labor hours each year."

GCNP superintendent Joe Alston presented the award to the team Wednesday morning in the maintenance shop.

Garza, who had a background in safety through his career in the Air Force, came to Grand Canyon in 1999. Coming up with a safety plan was a priority.

"We were just reacting to a bad situation," Garza said. "Then of course, we as a group formulated a plan."

The safety record prior to 1999 had actually been pretty good as well, Garza said, but there was the potential for accidents. Reducing that potential became the goal and members of the maintenance team all came up with ideas to solve problems.

"It was a pretty long process," Garza said. "We had pretty regular meetings on a regular basis in the beginning, then bi-weekly. Now we have monthly team safety meetings and identify stuff like that."

Besides Garza, others on the safety team include Randy Ronk, Chuck Boheneck, Jim Dewar, John Leyva, Jimmie Knight, John Appel, Mike Dawson, Ernest Johnson, David Reichstadt, Mike Wadsworth, Norman Johnson and Edward Hazlett.

John Beshears, chief of maintenance, said Garza has been a true leader for safety.

"He’s done a lot in that shop to improve the safety from general house cleaning to the whole attitude," Beshears said. "It’s driven from the top, but you have to get the people to do it. He’s been able to do that through leadership and commitment."

In a nomination package for the award, several safety measures were outlined. An important component of the team’s safety record, the nomination reads, is the implementation of a lockout-tagout program.

A chemical safety program also stands out, developed by shop personnel to document all hazardous materials used in the workplace. Through the program, there was a reduction of chemicals from 875 products to 150 products.

Safety guides are posted on the wall at each shop equipment station. The guide identifies proper protective gear, operational procedures for each work station and lists employees qualified to operation the equipment.

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