Safety and Effective Communication Matters

The company’s safety policy states,

“Colonna’s Shipyard and Steel America strive to maintain a safe and healthful working environment. The prevention of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses for all employees, customers, subcontractors, and visitors is of the utmost importance. Management is fully committed to support all safety efforts in support of this mission. Every individual is a part of the Safety Team. The management team believes safety and continuous improvement is as important as production and that a safe working environment ultimately enhances production efforts.”

Chris Hartwig, Fabrication Shop Program Manager, says,

“Steel America embraces the principle that Safety and Effective Communication is a part of every work day.  Over the past several years we have embraced these values much more as we realize how critical they are to the success of our industries and customers.  We are currently on track to reduce our safety ratings by approximately fifty percent!  The Management Team and Shop Leadership have developed several programs that we believe are the largest contributors to the success of this reduction. The biggest help is that everyone has embraces the face that we need to change our safety culture. The team lives by the phrase, ‘Nothing we do is so important that it cannot be done safely.’ We have figured out that in order to be more productive, ensure quality goals are achieved, and to have continued success supporting our markets, safety and communication are extremely important.”

Three of the major safety programs at Steel America are daily JSA (Job Safety Analysis) meetings, our Safety OFI (Opportunity For Improvement) program, and our Safety Reward program. The daily JSA meetings are open to all employees for their honest input and to review the tasks at hand, preventive action to take against weather conditions and/or machine/tool hazards, and corrective action before job assignments before each shift. The OFI program allows shop employees to provide ideas for Safety improvement to top level management for their review and action. The reward programs range from individual employee recognition (either tangible prizes (hats, shirts, etc.) or additional paid time off hours) to full shop luncheons provided by the management team.

With the summer heat rolling in, another big push in the shop is the importance of recognizing signs of heat stroke/heat exhaustion and ways to prevent such illnesses from occurring. 

Some symptoms of heat stroke/heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache, dizziness, fainting
  • Weakness and wet skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Irritability and/or confusion
  • Red, dry skin with no visible sweat (primarily heat exhaustion)

Ways to lessen your risk of heat stroke/heat exhaustion

  • Drink small amounts of cool water frequently
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine and lots of sugar (sports drinks)
  • Wear light-colored, looser fitting (without compromising work safety) cotton clothing

It is also important to watch out for your co-workers. If you see a co-worker exhibiting signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, report it immediately to a supervisor! Heat stroke/heat exhaustion has the potential to be deadly; acting fast can save lives!


Machine Shop Production Manager, Chris Chapman, congratulates the machine shop employees on being 100+ accident free!

Caisson Boston Delivery

The Steel America team launched the new Charlestown Naval Shipyard Drydock #1 Caisson  (“Caisson Boston”) on December 29, 2014. The shops had a big end of the year push to finish her ahead of schedule. Due to unforeseen weather conditions, she took a few extra days to get to the Boston Harbor. However, ultimately she arrived safely at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, MA thanks to the dedicated work by Intracoastal Marine, Inc. She will be used to hold back the Boston Harbor while specialized maintenance teams overhaul the USS Constitution.

Project Manager, Rick Hudgins said,

“The project management office would like to thank all of the Steel America team and the subcontractors involved for their diligent effort on the construction of Caisson Boston. Due to everyone’s commitment to this project, we delivered the Caisson to the Charlestown Navy Yard in time to support the scheduled dry-docking of the USS Constitution. Hats off to all involved.”

The Steel America team is grateful to be given the opportunity to build this historic landmark.

The Steel America team has now also delivered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard Drydock #1 Caisson (“Caisson Norfolk”). She was christened and set in the water on January 22nd, 2015.

Caisson Boston delivery - Steel America

See the video below from the Official USS Constitution Museum vimeo account of the installation/floating of the new Charlestown Naval Shipyard Drydock #1 Caisson  (“Caisson Boston”) :


Additional Resources


Steel America is a custom steel fabrication shop and large scale machining service provider with complex mechanical and electrical capabilities. It has a unique ability to fabrication heavy, high-cube structures, up to 1,000 metric tons in modular form, for delivery by barge directly from the shop to waterborne project locations. (Read more)

On-Site Fabrication Team

While the Steel America shop is busy with work in Norfolk, our on-site fabrication team is providing excellent on-site fabrication assistance at a local jobsite. It is a difficult and intricate welding project that requires an on-site fabrication team. Almost a year ago, the initial purchase order called for one supervisor and five welders. The fabrication project has since grown to one superintendent, four supervisors, forty-eight welders, and four Quality Control employees.

Superintendent Brian Treat says,

“Everyone from the Steel America team has put in superior quality and effort to make this project successful. I knew taking on this project would be difficult, but the exceptional team of supervisors and welders brought onto tackle this project has made it worthwhile. The project would be nonexistent without the dedication and drive of everyone that has been a part of it.”

The Steel America management team and production team is extremely proud of the progress the team is making. We are excited to see this on-site fabrication project expand and grow over the upcoming months/years.

Steel America’s on-site machining services provide the benefits of a fully equipped machine shop on the customer’s site. Please contact us if you would like more information concerning deployment of our on-site fabrication team and fabrication capabilities.