USAG RP intern shares passion for educating customers

When Michael Kah heard about the opportunity to become a host nation occupational safety and health specialist at U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, he didn’t hesitate.

Currently an intern with the Safety and Occupational Health Division, Kah has worked with the U.S. Army for over 20 years.

“I began my career in 2002 with the 6981st Civilian Support Group, 2nd Signal Brigade, in Mannheim, Germany, as a telecommunication lines installer and later installer foreman,” Kah said. “Next, I became a technical supply technician in the Supply Section, got promoted to technical supply chief, and finally took over the lead as chief S4, with the additional responsibilities for the procurement of all installation material for customer projects.”

Kah also served over 13 years as a unit safety officer and responsible point of contact for Unfallversicherung Bund und Bahn (UVB), an insurance firm that specializes in accident coverage and that is offered to local national employees.

On April 15, 2021, his journey with the USAG Rheinland-Pfalz safety office began in Kaiserslautern. He started a training program at the Institute for Work and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IAG) in Dresden and is on track to receive his final certification in March 2024. At that time, he will be permanently placed in the position of safety and occupational health specialist.

“This program gave me the opportunity to grow up and gain experience in all related fields of safety,” Kah said. “I am very proud I was selected for this apprenticeship, and I am grateful for the opportunity to grow my knowledge on the safety laws and regulations in place at USAG Rheinland-Pfalz.”

Kah first heard about the Apprenticeship Program through his former supervisor, Werner Hermes, who at the time was the safety manager for the U.S. Installation Management Command-Europe. He later was told to contact Daniel Nagel, USAG Rheinland-Pfalz Works Council chairman, to get more information and apply for the position.

“Without Mr. Nagel’s initiative to establish a training program, I would probably not have my current job,” Kah said. “Mr. Nagel’s work contributes enormously to make the USAG-Rheinland-Pfalz fit for the future and to open new paths. His work and personal commitment in this area is unparalleled.”

“When one of our safety positions became vacant, we took the opportunity to train an internal host nation safety specialist,” said Nagel.

“We sat down with the insurance company UVB and discussed the possibility for Mr. Kah to become a certified local national safety specialist. They supported our idea and offered to finance all training costs of approximately 50,000 Euro,” he said. “And here at the garrison we would have the opportunity to train someone in occupational health and safety to meet our needs.

“We are looking to possibly hire two additional local national safety specialists in the future,” Nagel added.

In his current position, Kah provides guidance, recommendations, advice, and assistance regarding both U.S. and local national SOH issues to commanders, managers, supervisors, employees, contractors and tenants associated with the Garrison.

Some of the other duties he performs include accident prevention and control, accident investigation reporting and analysis, elimination of environmental hazards, and safety education and promotion. He also prepares and evaluates reports, presenting findings to management along with recommendations on correction of environmental, mechanical, electrical, physical, and/or ergonomic standards.

Kah said his biggest achievement so far was the ability to build great relationships with his customers and provide them with all the information they need.

“The contact with our customers and the great garrison family give me every day a good feeling about what I do to provide a safe work environment,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to explain to the community what we do and why we do it — and how safety rules and procedures are in place to help everyone stay safe and healthy!”

According to Kah, the Apprenticeship Program is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to start a new career.

“Interns gain experience, professionalism and knowledge to advance in a particular field,” Kah said. “Sometimes it’s not easy, but in the end, you will be a specialist in what you are doing, use your knowledge, and pass it on to other people. I’m proud to be here and to be a part of this great team.”