Health and Safety - Dirk Bouma (EWB-USA)


Why Do We Care About Health and Safety?

    This presentation covers aspects of Health and Safety, with consideration of measures that are an integral part of every EWB project, from initial project application through final implementation.  It incorporates real EWB incidents, and is designed to engage every participant on every project in a deeper understanding of health and safety as it applies to our individual EWB projects.  It covers the health and safety planning that must go into other project and trip planning, organizational and administrative components, protocols and training.  This presentation will help prepare chapters in assessing and addressing the unique physical, chemical and biological hazards that are posed in the environments in which we work, with the goal of minimizing risk and preparing for all situations.  It encourages everyone to be involved in proper planning and effective implementation, developing a sense of how to prevent illness and injury, and how to address it when it is encountered in the field.  Medical safety aspects will be covered, focusing on behaviors to mitigate preventable diseases.

Biography - Dirk Bouma (EWB-USA):

    Dirk Bouma is a professional engineer with degrees in biology and civil engineering who has worked overseas for many years.  He has managed projects in the developing and developed world, and has been with Engineers Without Borders Chesapeake Professionals Chapter for about four years.  He works at BMT Designers and Planners as a Senior Engineer, working in site remediation, clean water act and global chemical regulations. 

    Dirk’s main support to EWB has been in establishing and maintaining Technical Advisory Committees, including the East Coast Technical Advisory Committee that was split into the North East Technical Advisory Committee and the South East Technical Advisory Committee, the latter which he continues to chair. 

    About three years ago Dirk sat down over lunch with another professional engineer and EWB member, Krista McKim, at an outdoor café in downtown Baltimore.  There, they discussed some observations from the field, since Krista had just returned from an EWB implementation trip in Thailand.  She expressed to Dirk her deep concern regarding health and safety in field operations, providing some examples in the project from which she had just returned.  Together, they mapped out a strategy to bring about an awareness and culture of safety in EWB, and Krista took the lead, with Dirk providing support from his background in site remediation and construction supervision. 

    The EWB Health and Safety program has been carried forward with the hard work of two professional engineers, AnnMarie Spextet and George Jamison.  George now leads the effort.  Dirk remains a contributing member of the health and safety committee, and is here today to talk about the program, its application in projects, and recent developments at Engineers Without Borders in Health & Safety.