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Fixing and reporting near misses, hazards a base-wide responsibility

Hazards can often be eliminated without waiting for official safety workers to take care of it. Voluntary Protection Program members encourage Tinker personnel to remedy any hazard if they can do it without injuring themselves. A pile of broken furniture in the soccer field near base housing is easy to remedy as Doug Bynum, 72nd Civil Engineering contracting officer representative, left, and Darren Hulsey, 72nd Air Base Wing VPP Integrated Design Team member, show by loading the debris into the back of a pickup and taking to a proper base dumpster. Even after a self-help fix, VPP members say a quick report is still necessary, but easy to do by calling or doing it online at the Tinker home page. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Hazards can often be eliminated without waiting for official safety workers to take care of it. Voluntary Protection Program members encourage Tinker personnel to remedy any hazard if they can do it without injuring themselves. A pile of broken furniture in the soccer field near base housing is easy to remedy as Doug Bynum, 72nd Civil Engineering contracting officer representative, left, and Darren Hulsey, 72nd Air Base Wing VPP Integrated Design Team member, show by loading the debris into the back of a pickup and taking to a proper base dumpster. Even after a self-help fix, VPP members say a quick report is still necessary, but easy to do by calling or doing it online at the Tinker home page. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Fixing hazards and near misses doesn't have to be a big production. Oftentimes, it can be done with a screwdriver, duct tape or a shovel and a couple of minutes.

If there is a pile of broken glass in a parking lot and a car narrowly avoids driving through it, it is a near miss. By shoveling and properly disposing of the broken glass, the hazard is abated.

Voluntary Protection Program and 72nd Air Base Wing Safety Office personnel said as long as base personnel, regardless of rank or stature, are chipping in and reporting incidents, Tinker will benefit.

"Don't be afraid to report hazards and don't be afraid to fix hazards and then report it," said Brenda Williams, 72nd ABW VPP Union representative and Integrated Design Team member. "We are all equal when it comes to correcting hazards across Tinker.
"Most people learn by watching, so if you see a supervisor working to correct a hazard it empowers employees to do the same," she said. "Just knowing that someone cares about our safety is worth the time and effort it takes to report or correct a hazard. A culture change is what we're looking for in the air base wing."

Voluntary Protection Program and 72nd ABW/SE personnel said reporting incidents are as important as fixing it. By reporting it, it enables safety officials to make sure the problem was fixed properly and didn't cause future issues. Also, they can track the incidents and look for patterns. Among the most commonly identified hazards are those that cause slips, trips and falls.

Since October 2011, 261 hazards have been reported that fall into the categories of unsafe conditions, traffic, unsafe practice, other, unsafe equipment and weather. Unsafe conditions had the most issues with 140 reports.

There are many ways to report incidents. They are: call the 739-SAFE hotline, document the incident online by clicking on the Online Hazard Reporting tool icon found at the far right column of the Tinker homepage, tell a supervisor or unit safety representative, email the issue to the hazard reporting program manager at 72abw.hazardrpts@tinker.af.mil, or fill out an Air Force Form 457. Regardless of the chosen method, the information will be compiled and posted on the website. Once posted, anyone who can access the homepage can view the reports and their statuses.
Those in charge of answering the reports said the more detailed information that is provided, the better. While "hallway in Bldg. 3001" or "pothole in Bldg. 3001 parking lot" may be accurate, more information would help.

"If we have an actual person to contact, it makes it a lot easier," said John Whiteaker, 72nd ABW/SE manager and Hazard Reporting manager. "We can't make it mandatory. They have to have the option to be anonymous; that's an Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement."

If the incident is reported anonymously and safety officials cannot find the hazard, Emily Wolfgeher, 72nd ABW/SE acting chief of Ground Safety, said the status will be posted online allowing someone to see the status and repost the incident with more information or call the safety office with the extra data.

"We want to help them, but if we can't find it, we'll tell them we're trying," she said.