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News | Sept. 29, 2006

101 critical days of summer are over; now what?

By Harry Dunn 1st Fighter Wing Safety Office

Well, summer's over, everyone's home from vacation, and the kids are back to school. Now it's time to take a look at where we've been over the last year and what we've learned. 

Let's take a few minutes to review our Ground Safety mishaps for Fiscal Year 06 and see how we can apply our lessons learned to reduce our mishap rate for FY07. 

The year started off with six Class C mishaps for the month of October: Three were on-duty, and three were off-duty sports and recreation mishaps. Of the three on-duty mishaps, the following two were preventable: An Airman splashed chemicals in his eyes while not wearing proper eye protection; and an Airman tripped and fell down some steps while distracted. 

November was the worst month of the year by far since an Airman was lost to a motorcycle accident. This was in no way our fault, but unfortunately an elderly gentleman had a seizure, crossed the yellow line and struck our Airman head-on. 

From December through May there were 12 on-duty and six off-duty Class C mishaps. When compared with October, 18 total mishaps seem like a reasonable reduction for a six-month period. However, when you consider several of the mishaps were near fatalities and the majority were preventable, this number is simply unacceptable and we must do better in FY07. 

Of the 12 on-duty mishaps between December and May the following were completely preventable: Two government motor vehicle accidents; an Airman was struck in the head by a tailgate; an Airman's head was pinned when a loading dock fell on him; a civilian worker tripped over a pallet jack; a civilian worker improperly lifted a 40 lb box of apples; and an F-15 was damaged during towing operations. Proper training, slowing down or asking for help could have prevented each of these mishaps. During this same period we had six off-duty Class C mishaps: Three Sports and Recreation mishaps; and three personal motor vehicle mishaps. It's not surprising to note that off-duty Sports and Recreation / PMV mishaps are the two leading causes of fatalities for both the 1st Fighter Wing and the Air Force. 

Going into the "101 Critical Days of Summer" is always a challenging time of year and this year would be no different for the 1st FW. May through August, the runway closed, and the entire 1st FW flying operations went on the road to five different locations. While we did a great job bringing each of our Airman home alive, we had seven on-duty Class C mishaps and 11 off-duty mishaps during the summer. The on-duty mishaps resulted in 20 lost days of work and cost the 1st FW $7,075. The 11 off-duty mishaps accounted for 238 lost days of work and cost the wing $95,529. 

As you can see, we are hurting ourselves more off-duty than on-duty and the two leading causes for off-duty mishaps are Sports and Recreation and PMV mishaps. The two most notable off-duty mishaps were an ATV mishap and a motorcycle mishap. With the ATV mishap, the Airman did everything right up to the time it was time to load the ATV in the truck. At that time, he removed his helmet for one last ride and hit a tree which resulted in severe head injuries. With the motorcycle mishap, the Airman lost control on a curve and hit a guardrail which resulted in severe internal injuries and multiple fractures. Thankfully, both Airmen survived and are recovering. 

Wow, that's a lot of mishap information but what's the point? The point is that the 1st FW lost: One Airman; valuable equipment; thousands of man-hours; and thousands of dollars in FY 06 due to mishaps, most of which were preventable. With the severe cutbacks the Air Force is experiencing, we must find ways to do things smarter and safer for FY07. 

So, what are the lessons learned from our FY06 mishaps that we can be apply to FY07? In the vast majority of mishaps, the two items that continually highlight themselves are: Poor Decision Making; and Poor Personal Risk Management. So next year whether you're on or off-duty, take a moment to think about what you are about to do and apply the ORM six step approach: Identify Hazards, Assess Risk, Analyze Controls, Make Decisions, Implement Controls, and Supervise and Review. 

If you can't remember all six steps simply ask yourself whether you've had proper training, have proper equipment and the risk is worth the gain. If we all apply these simple steps for FY07, we will significantly reduce our mishaps and greatly improve our ability for mission success.
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