HAMPTON, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) hosted a safety stand down at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, June 25 to discuss and learn about the importance of summer safety.
Capt. Glenn Jamison, the commanding officer of George Washington (GW), outlined shocks, voids, fires and falls as his top four safety priorities for the ship’s crew.
“We have to re-sensitize ourselves to those major items,” said Jamison. “We are in a very heavy industrial maintenance environment, and it’s not just our team, the GW team – it’s the shipyard workers, it’s the contractors. A lot of work is going on on the ship.”
In an industrial environment, there are many hazards that Sailors need to be aware of that could be the difference between life and death. The ship and the shipyard have policies in place to protect Sailors and shipyards workers while they are aboard George Washington, but it is up to the individual to follow the rules and policies to keep themselves safe. This includes wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE).
“The best way for you to protect yourself while in the shipyard environment is to make sure that you are wearing PPE,” said Cmdr. Patrick Brown, the safety officer aboard George Washington. “When you aren’t wearing the proper PPE, or you aren’t following the safety procedures that have been put into place, you are putting yourself at risk of injury. These policies and procedures are there to make sure everyone on the ship works in a safe environment.”
Safety is not just a concern for the shipyard, but also a mindset Sailors must maintain while off-duty. Kristian Hughes, a senior Virginia state trooper, talked about the importance of safe driving and provided Sailors key tips to stay safe on Virginia motorways.
“Don’t be another statistic, don’t be Virginia’s next fatality,” said Hughes. “It’s all about getting where you’re going safely. Don’t text and drive, don’t drive a vehicle after drinking alcohol, know when you are too tired to drive and please always wear your seatbelts.”
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chamu Chimhau, a preventative medicine technician assigned to George Washington, spoke about the importance of being knowledgeable about heat stress and ways Sailors can protect themselves from heat-related illness and injury.
“Heat stress is any combination of air temperature, thermal radiation, humidity, airflow, workload and health conditions that may stress the body as it attempts to regulate body temperature,” said Chimhau. “There are a lot of spaces on the ship that have minimal to no air circulation, and you are going to have a lot of heat in those spaces causing stress on your body.”
Although the lack of air circulation and air-conditioning can cause some areas of the ship to be tough to work in, the job still needs to get done in order for George Washington to get out of the shipyard and back to the fleet. Sailors can protect themselves from the dangers of heat-related illness by getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol and energy drinks in excess.
“Staying properly hydrated is your best defense against heat-related illnesses,” said Chimhau. “When the body tries to cool itself off, you are going to sweat a lot. You can sweat up to a liter of water out of the body every hour, so you want to make sure you are drinking a lot of fluids if you are working in a hot environment. Another way Sailors can protect themselves from heat-related illnesses is by getting at least six to eight hours of sleep a night and by avoiding drinking alcohol the day before they have to come to work.”
Safety should be one of the top concerns for Sailors while at work, at home or on the road. By staying vigilant and recognizing the situation, Sailors can keep themselves, their shipmates and families safe.
“When we stand up here and talk about safety and talk about how important each one of you guys is, and we talk about the business that you do, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture,” said Brown. “Right now, we are in the yards; we are not out in the Persian Gulf, not out in the dangerous waters of the world combating pirates or combating terrorists. We don’t have shots being fired at us, so we get a little comfortable in our position here, but I am here to tell you that your job is every bit as dangerous every day you come to work as the other Sailors out at sea.”
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.