District Reaches Two Million Man Hours of Safe Work in Bahrain

Middle East District
Published Feb. 24, 2012

WINCHESTER, Va. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District has recognized a contractor for working more than two million man hours without a lost-time accident.

"This is a rarely achieved level of consistent safety performance," said Jon Fentress, chief, the district's Safety and Occupational Health Office. "Both the contractor and the district have reached a significant milestone, especially considering the level of risk associated with constructing multi-million projects in the Middle East with numerous nationalities of workers."

On Jan. 29, Christian Nelson, district safety specialist, presented a certificate of merit to the leaders of Contrack International Inc. for superior safety performance on the first phase of the waterfront development program in Bahrain.

"This is Contrack International's second safety award for this project," Nelson said. "The company received an award for its first one million man hours worked, and now it has topped two million man hours. Achieving this volume of work, without a reportable accident, is a testimony to the efforts of the contractor and the Bahrain Resident Office team to have a safe jobsite."

"I am proud of this (government and contractor) team," said John Bishop, resident engineer. "We have a good relationship with Contrack International. The team is focused on delivering a safe project. The worksite is always clean, and that's important because we have to make sure nothing pollutes the waterway."

Middle East District is overseeing a multi-phased waterfront development program on a 70-acre site at Mina Salmon Port near Manama for use by U.S. and allied ships and personnel. Contrack International Inc., of McLean, Va., is constructing the phase I project, at $51.3 million, which includes utilities, operations and maintenance facilities, and vehicle storage.

The award spans the period from April 2010, when the district issued a notice to proceed to the contractor, through October 2011.

In presenting the award to Contrack's Ali Chahine, project manager, and Mohamed Gouda, health and safety director, Nelson acknowledged the firm's proactive safety culture fostered by upper management and demonstrated daily by every worker on site. "Contrack International's professionalism, dedication, and attention to detail have resulted in an excellent safety record," the award citation read.

"Our work in Bahrain is by far the darling of our projects for the Army Corps of Engineers in this area of operations," said Wahid Haki, chief executive officer, Contrack International. "We want to deliver not only a successful project but an outstanding project. And much of this success is because of our local partner, NASS. When you are in a new market, so much depends on your local partner. NASS deserves much credit for its work on this project, too."

Gouda said that the contractor has 14 nationalities working on the site and that any subcontractor with more than 10 people, working on the jobsite, will get safety training.

Nelson said Contrack International is receptive to safety inspections and recommendations on how to improve jobsite safety.

"Safety is a management system, not just the job of one individual," Nelson said. "Contrack International emphasizes safety on this project, and I see it reflected in the actions of the firm's quality assurance manager and project manager, as well as its safety director.

"While it's important to have an accident prevention plan that complies with the Corps of Engineers' safety manual, it's critical to execute that plan – to get it understood at the worker level, especially with so many nationalities working here," Nelson continued.

"Over the life of this project, I've seen improvement in their scaffolding," Nelson said. "They use the appropriate procedures to set it up from the foundation to the working level, which can be four or more stories high. They're also compliant with fall protection requirements."

Nelson complimented the contractor's housekeeping practices, too. "A clean and well organized jobsite is generally a safer worksite. They use personal protective gear, such as hard hats, gloves, safety glasses and safety shoes. They have toolbox safety meetings weekly with all their workers to make them aware of issues or improve their work practices.

"My experience is that when a contractor pays attention to the small details, they're paying attention to the bigger issues on a jobsite," Nelson said.

Contrack International Inc. also holds the contract for the second phase of the waterfront development program, which began in October 2010 with a one-year construction period. That phase includes port operations and harbor patrol facilities, small craft berthing facility, and additional utilities.

The Middle East District recognizes all contractors that accumulate one million man hours of work without a lost-time accident.

District resident engineers have responsibility for nominating contractors for the safety award. To receive recognition, contractors must comply with the established criteria in the Corps of Engineers safety manual, which includes approved project safety plans, hazard analysis, safety indoctrination for new employees and regular training, protective gear, and no recordable accidents.

"This is one of our (district) showcase projects," said Roger Thomas, chief, Construction Operations Division for the district. "We depend on contractors to help us build projects for our customers. This partnership is producing some of the safest work in theater."

The Middle East District provides engineering, construction and related services in the Middle East, Central Asia and other areas. Its work includes designing and constructing facilities for use by U.S. forces, performing engineering activities for other U.S. government and foreign agencies, and providing operations and maintenance services for various customers. In addition, the district provides project management, engineering, contracting and support services to USACE districts in Afghanistan.