Safety: not an additional duty, a culture

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. O.G. Mannon
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
Safety is key to the success of the Air Force mission, whether that mission is putting bombs on target or training highly-skilled, combat-ready Airmen.
Our mission may be compromised if our folks aren't proactive in ensuring a safe work environment. Every military and civilian employee at Team Sheppard is a valuable asset in the warfighting machine. Losing an Airman to a careless decision or lack of action is unacceptable.

More than 2,000 of our military and civilian employees responded to the Air Force Culture Assessment Survey Tool. That might not seem like much, but we exceeded our goal of 2,000. That tells me we do have people who are interested in their safety and the safety of their wingman.

A key word in AFCAST is "culture." Safety isn't an additional duty, it's a culture. Moving an extension cord strewn across a floor creating a tripping hazard isn't just preventing a fall, it's creating a safe culture.

I tasked our 82nd Training Wing Safety Office to gather data and comments from the AFCAST. We are well on our way to creating a safety culture. Some Team Sheppard members pointed out valid safety concerns during the survey. Safety technicians investigated the complaints and steps are already being taken to remedy the situation.

This action reinforces for me that our people are already safety conscious. What we need now is a 100 percent buy-in from our lowest ranking military and civilian employees to our most senior military and civilian leaders. One way we are going to achieve this end result is through the Voluntary Protection Program.

I know what you're already thinking. "Not another program! Not another additional duty! Not another (you fill in the blank)!"

I won't get into the history or nuts and bolts of VPP, but I will tell you this program was developed to cut down on the number of workplace injuries and illness. A healthy and safe workplace results in increased productivity and morale. VPP could just as well be called "Vigilantly Protecting People," because that's what it's all about -- protecting people.

We already do this as wingmen. Our safety folks already do a fantastic job at promoting a safe work environment. Now it's time for individuals to stand up and become champions of safety. Although the name suggests the program is voluntary, let me assure you that it won't be successful without 100 percent buy-in by all.

Don't dismiss this as one more thing to do. This "one more thing" could be the difference between you and your co-workers going home at the end of the day.