ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. --
Late last year, AEDC Commander Col. Scott Cain set a lofty yet critical goal for the upcoming 12 months.
“Our ultimate goal in 2018 is zero Class A/B mishaps,” Cain wrote in his Commander’s 2018 Safety Guidance memorandum disseminated on Dec. 15, 2017. “Mishaps, at whatever level, reduce our capacity to conduct the mission, a mission which is crucial to continued U.S. aerospace dominance. A focus on our safety culture, which includes all Airmen, and embracing the AFSMS (Air Force Safety Management System) is how we will protect our precious resources and prevent mishaps in 2018.”
AEDC Chief of Safety James Raabe said AEDC safety efforts are beginning to line up with Cain’s December 2017 memorandum, in which the AEDC Commander announced that the AFSMS would be the AEDC safety focus for 2018 while providing expectations to AEDC to improve the overall safety culture in the areas of Policy and Leadership, Risk Management, Assurance, and Promotion and Education – the four pillars of the AFSMS.
“His expectations align with and are the foundation of the Air Force Safety Management System, which was designed to prevent mishaps,” Raabe said.
There are groups and programs in place across Arnold Air Force Base help ensure Cain’s goal is achieved.
“We must all be aware of our surroundings and address questionable procedures or hazards to the appropriate level of supervision/management,” Raabe said. “Just because we’ve done it this way forever does not mean it is the right way. An effective safety program must have employee buy-in to effect culture change, and AEDC is improving via contractor safety programs such as these.”
Just as their names imply, the Manufacturing Safety Leadership Council and the Base Operations Safety Leadership Team, or SLT, share the same goal of safety for base-wide operations, and these groups work to keep this aspect of the AEDC culture at the forefront.
The MSLC is a group comprised of representatives from all shops and groups within the NAS Manufacturing Group. The purpose of the MSLC is to provide craft employees with a proactive opportunity to actively engage in safety improvement initiatives, according to former NAS Manufacturing Group Manager and current Acquisitions Functional Manager Mike Ramsey.
“The vision of these teams is to promote and maintain a safety relationship between management and employees while building on the foundation of the NAS safety program,” Ramsey said.
MSLC membership consists of at least one craft employee from each shop/craft area, the group manager, at least one planner/scheduler, one salaried/NES representative, and the assigned Safety, Health and Environment representative. There are 15 members on the team.
Over the past year, the MSLC has identified 231 safety issues related to Manufacturing Group work and work areas. Of these, 179 issues have been closed or resolved. Ramsey said the majority of the identified issues were discovered during a “Hazard Hunt” competition between the various shops and work areas. This hunt began in January 2017 and occurred during a one-hour safety stand-down, during which craft and administrative team members worked together to examine their work areas for hazards. Points were awarded for the highest number of hazards identified, the most hazards corrected during the hunt, the most serious hazard discovered, the most ideas generated to improve safety, and the area inspected with the fewest unsafe findings.
“Significant improvements in work areas, equipment and processes have been made from these efforts,” Ramsey said.
Ronald Skipworth, base operations director and a management member of the Base Operations SLT, said the purpose of the SLT is to get members from each crew meeting to discuss safety issues and concerns and to take back information to their crews. The group covers the facilities and utilities areas across AEDC.
“The SLT is able to reach a much larger percentage of the employees and resolve issues at the lowest level,” Skipworth said.
The SLT is led by Union employees and management from each area who attend the meetings, which are conducted twice per month, to support the teams’ efforts. The current SLT is a combination of AEDC Test Operations and Sustainment contract personnel including NAS employees, Chugach personnel and, at times, those from nLogic. The team members serve for a period of time before rotating off, giving others a chance to be involved.
The Base Operations team was originally established at Arnold Air Force Base under a previous contractor, and the current incarnation of the SLT was established in August 2016 after the TOS contract transition.
“In the Base Operations area, some of the Union employees brought the idea to management and everyone agreed it would be a great way to improve our safety culture,” Skipworth said.
Since August 2016, the Base Operations SLT has tracked 45 safety items and closed out 21. Seven of these items have been moved to long-term funding status.
The first meeting of the SLT each month focuses on the NAS monthly Safety Campaign topic.
“We have completed safety audits or had a subject matter expert present on the monthly topic,” Skipworth said.
Akima Support Operations, AECOM and Protective Solutions Incorporated – the three subcontractors that make up Facility Support Services (FSS) – also have a team devoted to ensuring the safety of FSS personnel.
This group, the ASO Contract Safety Council, is comprised of employees and managers from each of the three FSS subcontractors. The group meets every other month to work together on safety, and the meetings typically average around 20 attendees.
“It’s been a really well-attended group,” said Daryle Lopes, AECOM site manager for the FSS contract and Arnold Fire & Emergency Services chief.
The Contract Safety Council is guided by the Safety Program Management Plan, which is a written safety program developed with input from the three FSS subcontractors to produce solid safety performance.
Included within this overarching plan are the Life-Preserving Principles, a set of nine ideals based on an AECOM program. The principles include preplanning, the encouragement of employee participation in safety, and a demonstration among FSS management to take the lead on safety. Lopes said FSS management has adhered to the latter principle as five FSS supervisors in 2017 were certified through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals as Safety Trained Supervisors. To earn this certification, supervisors must demonstrate an ability to work with safety personnel, complete 30 hours of documented training and complete a test administered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
“It proves we have the background to manage our safety programs and really lead them well,” he said of the certification.
Another key to safety within the FSS is observation. Personnel are encouraged to say something if they see something out of place. Lopes said this allows for the identification of safety issues and quicker resolutions.
“We have a few different programs that are working out for us,” Lopes said.
The efforts to emphasize safety among FSS is paying off in the mission, Lopes said. He said a safer environment leads to work getting done without the cost of missed time due to injury. FSS had only a single recordable injury during the 2017 calendar year.
The subcontractors within FSS not only work together on safety, but FSS also works with NAS Safety, Health and Environmental officials to coordinate SHE standards and to resolve any issues that may arise.
Lopes added he is encouraged by the efforts of contractors across Arnold for the emphasis they have placed on safety through their programs and groups.
“All the contractors, employees and managers, have done a great job of making safety personal and staying involved in it,” he said.