Why YOUR Safety Matters

  • Published
  • By James M. Fernandez

Why?  This is a question we in the safety office are asked almost every time we investigate an off duty mishap. Why does the Air Force care so much about me during my off duty time?  Why does the Air Force care if I drive a motorcycle?  Why do I have to see my supervisor to get permission to participate in a high risk activity when I am off duty?                                                                                                                                                                                    

Why? Because we need you.

For the second year in a row, the Air Force has not had any on duty work related fatalities (with exception of aviation). We are working safer and when we work safer our production and mission completion and success increases across the board. Let’s make it three years without a fatality.

Off duty mishaps account for over 70% of all the mishap reports we receive. They can range from vehicle, motorcycle, and boating accidents to falling off a ladder, spraining an ankle playing sports, swimming, sunburn, and or burning yourself while grilling.  Believe me when I say there aren’t many mishaps that surprise us. When you get injured, it not only affects you but it affects your shop and family life. Whether you are at home recovering, going to doctor visits or are on crutches, light duty or quarters, someone has to fill your spot which takes them away from their duties. In the era of manning shortages, budget restraints, and a hostile world environment, we don’t have the luxury of being shorthanded. Our Country needs you.

The Air Force uses many programs to get you to think about your off duty safety. “The 100 Days of Summer,” “Quest for Zero,” “Check 3 GPS” are just a few of the safety programs the Air Force Safety Center has used or is currently using. While we strive for zero mishaps, we are all human and we all make mistakes. As hard as this is for me as a Safety Specialist to admit, we may never reach tour zero goal but we can all work to decrease and minimize off duty mishaps and injuries. One of the best tools we can use is Risk Management. Most of us don’t even realize we are using it on a daily basis.  Should I make that right hand turn? Do I have enough room to merge? Should I have my car inspected before I take that long road trip? I’m going water skiing, do I have my life jacket and sunscreen?  Am I rested and alert? Did I stretch and warm up before playing sports? We all incorporate the 5-Step RM process daily without even thinking.  

And if you are a parent, you have taught your children risk management from the day they were born.  We teach them to look both ways before crossing a street. We put life jackets on them and keep them in car seats. Real-time risk management, or the ABCD model is used to make a decision when you don’t have time to use the formal RM process. This is the process we all use in our daily lives. Next time you make a decision involving risk, go through the five steps and practice.  Soon you will not even have to think about it you will instinctively run through the five steps.

So, now you know WHY!  You are valuable to your family and friends, our country, the Air Force, and the 460th Space Wing.

Please do not hesitate to call the Wing Safety Office at any time if you have questions or concerns regarding any safety issue both on and off duty. We have an on call member on duty 24/7.  You can reach us by calling the safety hotline at 720-847-7233 or the Command Post at 720-847-4600 after hours.