Thinking about safety

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Loren M. Reno
  • Commander, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center
I have been thinking a lot about safety recently...I hope you have, too. Safety is part of my daily cross-check for the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center.
   The OC-ALC recently started a "Safety Heroes" program. These heroes are employees who identify and help us correct deficiencies and processes in the workplace that could lead to mishaps. These safety conscious employees are all around us.
   I encourage peers and supervisors alike to nominate these individuals to the Safety office...they will take it from there (full details are available on the OC-ALC Safety Web site).
   I am eager to recognize those who help us avoid mishaps...please help me to identify and recognize their efforts properly.
   While reviewing our performance metrics recently, I noted a continuing positive trend in the quality of our production output in aircraft, engines, and commodities.
   This is noteworthy. I sense a culture of doing things by the book -- every time. We need this same culture in the area of safety in order to improve the way we think about doing our work and living our lives.
   Have you thought about the question, "Why do mishaps occur"? There are lots of reasons, and most of them are easily avoidable. Here are three leading causes of mishaps at Tinker: 
   A willingness to accept imprudent risk - Have you ever "cut a corner" or ignored a posted rule? Our technical orders and other written guidance we use daily have been written in the blood of those who came before us. We must follow them explicitly, every time, to avoid previous mishaps.
   I never expect anyone to do an unsafe act in order to meet production schedules. Things like driving while talking on a cell phone are known hazards...and wrong. 
   A belief that past acceptance of unnecessary risk makes us more immune to its dangers - Have you ever heard the phrase "We've always done it that way"? If we have always done a dangerous task with no regard for safety, the task remains unsafe no matter how much experience we have doing it.
   We must end the unsafe practices wherever we find them. 
    A lack of courage to speak up when we should - Have you ever decided not to speak up about something you knew was wrong? Mustering the courage to ask a coworker to wear his or her personal protective equipment could mean the difference between a "near miss" and a disabling injury...or worse. Every injury at Tinker inflicts unnecessary pain and suffering on our employees and their families, increases our workload and lessens our capability to support the warfighter.
   While I am sure many of you can add to this list, the bottom line is that each of you is the most familiar person with the hazards in your work area. Let's all put that knowledge to use and mitigate the hazards to make Tinker a safer place. Together we will make it "better."