Genet Tulu, Baltimore District industrial hygienist, was awarded the U.S. Army Guardian Safety Award, June 7, 2022. Ms. Tulu was presented the award at the Post Theater on Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Harford County, Md.
Tulu serves in the Environmental Munitions Design Center where she works on hazardous, toxic and radioactive worksites with a focus on occupational health and protecting workers.
Her quick thinking, seamless communication and training are the reason she is the recipient of the U.S. Army Guardian Safety Award.
“I received a phone call and a picture showing what was happening at the job site, and I was immediately alarmed,” said Tulu.
She describes an excavator carving the interior of a two-story building during its demolition on APG, whilst inside, or within the “collapse zone” – which was not in accordance with the safety plan they had set in place.
“I called the site and got the operator out of the building and stopped all operations,” said Tulu. “Everyone was extremely responsive, and the project engineer reevaluated the structure, added additional controls, and we were able to complete the remainder of the work without any issues.”
Tulu explains the incident as a result of a lapse in judgment and change in the equipment operator.
“What people on the team thought was being done had changed, and we had to react,” explained Tulu. “From then on, it was a simple top-down demolition. There is a reason we do things a certain way.”
Safety is a top priority, especially at an active construction site. All steps are flushed out beforehand, keeping safety at the forefront during the planning phase.
“This was the first time I’ve had to make a stop work order,” said Tulu. “There have been times I’ve had to stop and think, but this specifically was a first for me.”
Tulu was both surprised and appreciative when she was notified about receiving this award.
“This is what I am trained to do - this is my job,” expressed Tulu. “It means a lot to me because I was recognized outside of USACE, which shows others that taking action is meaningful and recognizable to prevent injuries and mishaps in the future. I’m glad to know an award like this exists at the Army level for those to take action; it’s better than being reactive after an accident.”
The U.S. Army Guardian Safety Award is awarded to Army military personnel or Department of the Army civilians who, through extraordinary actions or skills, reacted to an emergency event or an imminently dangerous situation, thereby eliminating or minimizing loss, such as damage to Army property or injury to Army personnel.
Prior to joining the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulu received her Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Notre Dame, now known as Notre Dame of Maryland University, and her master’s degree from the University of Maryland. Tulu joined the Army Corps as an industrial hygienist intern for the Savannah District in 2015.