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New BIE Branch of Safety Management Offers Training, Inspections of BIE funded Schools

Two Branch of Safety Management inspectors evaluate a playground at an elementary school.

May is Building Safety Month, and the BIE Branch of Safety Management is responsible for ensuring the safety of all Bureau students and staff through the inspection of each building that BIE occupies. The Bureau of Indian Education oversees more than 200 offices and school sites across the country through the Bureau Operated, Tribally Controlled, and Navajo Associate Deputy Directors. 

The Branch of Safety Management was separated from the Bureau of Indian Affairs three years ago and established within BIE on October 1, 2021. The BIE safety office now has a dedicated staff of 11 safety specialists, investigators and inspectors led by Supervisory Safety Manager Donald Dryer. 

“We’ve worked hard on professional development for this team, and one of the things that I am most proud of is the fact that almost all of them have achieved some level of safety certification related to what we do here at BIE,” Dryer said. 

That includes staff being well-versed in fire inspection, Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, equipment training and more. They work to identify hazards through onsite inspections and incident investigations, provide training for school staff, and respond to requests for technical support. They also prevent accidents through education and risk mitigation. 

Dryer and his staff take a customer service approach to talking with schools and fulfilling their requests, especially when working with Tribally Controlled schools. Dryer recognizes these programs’ autonomy and strives to be a resource for those schools as they manage their safety programs. The Branch of Safety Management supports schools whenever and wherever possible. 

“I just sent three people down to Havasupai Elementary School in Arizona last week to help the school and the Education Program Administrator make minor adjustments that improve living conditions and safety,” Dryer said. “Showing that kind of relationship makes a big impression on both the school and the community.” 

The Branch of Safety Management offers several monthly virtual training sessions open to all BIE personnel, including those at Tribally Controlled Schools. Any BIE school can also request virtual or in–person safety training on various topics, including ADA compliance, hazard communications, fire sprinklers and alarms, motorized equipment operations, HVAC and ventilation, bloodborne pathogens and electrical safety. 

“If we can get people to start thinking about safety 24 hours a day around the clock, whether at work or home, that helps us in the long run. That is what keeps our people safe,” Dryer said. 

Their priority is student safety and helping create a safe environment where obtaining a culturally relevant education and holistic well-being remain the focus. 

Find out more about the BIE Branch of Safety Management at bie.edu.

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