Safety is not a practice; it’s a way of life

  • Published
  • By Eric Mitchell, AEDC Contributing Writer
I got my indoctrination into Safety in the Navy's MR "A" School years ago. Machinery Repair (MR) is the title for machinist in the U.S. Navy. I learned "Safety First, Accuracy Second and Speed Last." It was that experience that prepared me for my career as a machinist and it gave me an appreciation of what it takes to do the kind of work myself and my co-workers do every day to support our team. And because of the work we do, because of the inherent hazards we deal with, safety is embedded in what we do. It's not something that we think about separately; it's just the way we do business.

It's been a long time since I was a new employee and I've seen lots of others come and go at all levels of the organization. People have changed and so has the overall culture with respect to safety.

We, the AM3 Branch (Test Support), appreciate the teamwork approach and the relationships that our management has taken the time to build, and we feel empowered to speak up when we have an issue or concern. The AM3 Team has focused our efforts toward mitigating "low-hanging fruit" and we continue to focus on the greater picture of our safety culture. This doesn't mean we have eliminated low-hanging fruit - but it does mean that our leadership team, including our Safety Leadership Council (SLC), gets right on it and it doesn't hang around long when the budget allows.

Within our organization we all work together - despite title, rank or discipline - to look after each other. And this includes safety. Bottom line is that we no longer feel like we are working in an environment where there is more concern about following procedures than our personal safety. None of us want to get hurt; we never have and never will. We always remember the history associated with our team; our serious injuries and fatalities that have impacted everyone - families as well as co-workers. We just can't have that!

Our branch management listened to our SLC concerns and we now work together to make safety a safe conversation and we have a better understanding on the importance of focusing on the positives. Conversations are "straight-up," honest and open. This all adds up to make for a much better and less stressful working relationship with our co-workers and management.

Communication and relationships - these are the keys to our success. We appreciate being able to bring up issues and concerns knowing they'll be taken seriously and that we are an active part of the solution. Another attribute of our team is that we aren't afraid to offer help even if it's not needed - and it's appreciated when we do.

We do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. In the AM3 organization we had a slogan contest more than a year ago. The winning slogan - and our motto - is "Safety is not a practice - it's a way of life"... it's just how we do business.