BARSTOW, Calif. - The one and only Marine Corps base to receive star certification by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program took their knowledge and experience to NASA, March 26.
The safety office on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., shared safety precautions with NASA and various California agencies in support of Partners in Safety, an organization promoting new ideas in safety, during a tour of the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex on the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
The purpose of Partners in Safety is to bring agencies together to exchange safety information from different standpoints and job fields, explained Charles Keegan, a safety and occupational health specialist on MCLB Barstow.
NASA’s Deep Space Network is an array of antennas used to communicate with robotic spacecraft exploring throughout space. The spacecraft captures images of different planets, moons, asteroids, comets and stars, and then transmits those images back to Earth. Goldstone’s complex is one of three clusters of antennas in the world, as stated on deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov.dsn. The other two are in Spain and Australia.
Attendees included safety specialists and firefighters from Fort Irwin and various other California safety agencies, said Keegan.
“We were the only representatives with VPP star certification,” added the Hillman, Mich., native.
OSHA’s VPP is a prestigious certification. Every aspect of the base must pass exceptionally thorough safety inspections in order to qualify, added Keegan.
“Other agencies were very interested in how we became certified,” he said. “We explained to them how the inspection process works to the best of our ability; every minor detail counts during inspections.”
Keegan found the trip to be beneficial to improve overall safety on base.
“We don’t know everything,” he said. “If something comes up in the future that we don’t have experience with, there’s a good chance they (Partners in Safety) can help us,” Keegan said. “It’s a great opportunity for networking.”
“The areas of safety differ significantly between agencies,” Keegan said. “A lot of the things they do weren’t applicable to us, and a lot of safety aspects we focus on weren’t applicable to them. The most important thing was the learning experience and broadening our views as a safety office. Just because something doesn’t apply to us today, doesn’t mean we won’t use it in the future.”
Upon conclusion of the tour, the safety specialists sat down with Dr. Mike Glassey, the wildlife preservation manager on Fort Irwin, and were introduced to unique wildlife found in the desert, explained Keegan.
“Safety precautions need to be taken with dangerous animals in the area such as rattle snakes,” he said. “Also, we must be careful in preserving endangered wildlife such as the desert tortoise.”
Many people are unfamiliar with desert wildlife he explained. There are many birds of prey, mammals, reptiles and insects that have adapted to the High Desert climate. It is important for us to be aware of the different animals we share the area with; for our safety and for theirs.
“Overall the trip was a great learning experience,” said Keegan.
Keegan encourages Marines and base employees to take advantage of the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex Tour offered on Fort Irwin. Many people are unaware such a thing exists only 35 miles from Barstow.
As for learning about wildlife, Keegan recommends attending MCLB Barstow’s Earth Day 2013, April 11 at the base library, McTureous Hall. Dr. Glassey will be on base with desert critters and birds of prey to showcase and educate base personnel.