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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — For the second year, Sasebo Naval Base has been recognized as the safest nonindustrial overseas naval base in the military, according to the Naval Safety Center.

The Safety Department’s award for “Achievement in Safety Ashore” commends the base’s on-duty and off-duty workplace accident rate, which has dropped from 24 accidents in 2002 to six accidents in 2006, according to James Whalen, the base’s safety manager.

The base also has cut its vehicle accident rate for personally owned vehicles during the same span, from 382 in 2002 to 130 last year, a 66 percent decrease. The number of government car accidents on base dropped from six to zero in those same years.

“It’s a phenomenal thing for our base,” Whalen said last week.

His staff of 12 is responsible for enforcing and encouraging workplace safety standards throughout the base, from schools and housing to offices and the Navy Exchange stores. The office does not oversee the medical facilities or the base’s ship repair facility.

Whalen credited the reduction in accidents to more training and attention to safety awareness, both from his office and within units and departments throughout the command.

Five years ago, his staff started meeting once a month for in-depth discussion on the three dozen areas they cover, everything from asbestos abatement to indoor air quality. That attention has paid off, he said.

The statistics track “reportable” accidents as defined by the Department of Labor, according to Whalen.

For a car accident in a personal car, that means losing 24 hours or more of work; for an accident with a government vehicle, it means losing one day of work and damages of at least $5,000. For a workplace accident, it means the worker misses 24 hours or more of work because of injuries. The statistics are for fiscal years, Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.


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