Safety Cannot be Sequestered!

  • Published
  • By LtCol Mike Comstock
  • 143 AW/SE
We're all facing hard economic times in the Guard. Budgets and flying hours are being slashed. Furloughs have been planned. Things are tough all over. Luckily, our work requirements will be scaled back accordingly... right? Hmm... not so much.
The need to operate safely cannot be scaled back either. On the contrary, as we're faced with cuts in time and money we need to be even more vigilant guardians of our safety culture (defined as the ingrained inclination to follow applicable technical guidance and proper safety protocols in a given situation). Commanders and supervisors in particular must ensure that compressed work schedules, fatigue, and frustration don't result in cut corners and poorly executed Operational Risk Management. The time "saved" by rushing or by-passing proper safety protocols is not worth the risk to life, limb, sight or assets.

"Past performance is no guarantee of future results." This phrase is the standard "fine print" disclaimer posted on most investment literature. It's basically telling you that even though an investment earned money in the past, you could lose money in it in the future. When it comes to "safely" by-passing safety protocols, the disclaimer also holds true. The past "success" of our safety shortcuts in no way ensures that same "success" in the future. In fact, the more we get used to "safely" by-passing safety protocols, the more likely it is that our complacency will lead us one day into a serious incident. If you're the guy or girl that always follows proper safety protocol, the disclaimer is NOT suggesting that you're wasting your time. Though an incident could still occur due to human error, the chances of it are greatly diminished by the safeguards you put in place.
Take care of your wingman because it's the right thing to do. Sometimes the message of an organizational slogan like "Take care of your wingman" is weakened because some dismiss organizational slogans as the party line. Were your parents preaching the party line when they told you to take care of your brother, sister, cousin, friend, etc.? Of course not, they wanted you to look out for each other so everyone's safety would be increased. It's no different in our Guard family. We have to look out for each other. These are difficult times. People will get stressed and their head may not be in the game at times. Watch for the signs in each other... fatigue, irritability, low morale, decreased performance, etc. Care enough to speak up when you see safety being compromised or by-passed. You may save your wingman and unit from a costly mishap.

The 143d Safety Office can be reached at 401-267-3212