JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Instructors from the Air Force Safety Center recently visited Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., to teach a human factor workshop Oct. 10 -11.
In an effort to prevent future mishaps and fatalities across the Air Force enterprise, the course enabled the instructors to discuss the safety of various types of operations Airmen conduct and to gather feedback from Airmen from a dynamic range of experience levels.
“The majority is this class consists of aerospace and operational physiology technicians and officers,” said Maj. Heather Tevebaugh, Air Force Safety Center human factor workshop instructor. “By having them trained in mishap prevention, our resources, Airmen and leaders are able to make decisions at the appropriate level for safe mission effectiveness.”
Another key aspect of the workshop was to help attendees develop their own leadership skills as they investigate incidents and sharpen the skillsets and tools they can use to help their commanders.
“I think safety starts with the commander, but more importantly, I think it establishes the tone and the culture,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Massa, Air Combat Command Aerospace & Operational Physiology Program Manager. “If you have a culture of safety, which is a term that is used quite a bit, everybody accepts that culture. And if they accept that culture, they’re more likely to accept the practices that are known – and the procedures and processes that are tried and true. It enables us to execute, but at the same sense, it enables us to take risk.”
Taking risk falls under the Air Combat Command priority of “bringing the future faster.” During the workshop, instructors and students discussed real-world and training-based scenarios where Airmen at all levels can play a role in how occupational safety impacts a commander’s decision to take risk.
“As we know, there is risk in everything we do, but it allows us to make risk at the right levels,” Massa said. “And our senior leaders have allowed us to take risk all the way down to the squadron, so it’s establishing that culture.”
An established culture of Airmen who are adept in the realms of occupational safety can prevent the opposite, which is a culture of Airmen who ignore safety policies and take risk that can cause injuries or fatalities.
“As a leader, you go back and make sure your Airmen are wearing their safety goggles, that they have their proper protective equipment on, and that they’re doing the things that you actually put in your policy,” Tevebaugh said. “Otherwise, it’s just a piece of paper and all you’re going to get is coffee pots unplugged at the end of the night.”
Safety mishaps can occur from any person at any age or rank. The workshop, which consisted of students varying from Airman 1st Class up to Colonel, helped empower leaders to properly apply occupational safety, regardless of their position.
“We want to dissolve that frozen middle,” said Maj. Nancy Delaney, Air Force Safety Center human factor workshop instructor. “We need to be able to understand each other’s perspective, so that the person that’s out doing the tasks understands the supervisory requirements and also the supervisor understands the worker bee requirements.”
Overall, the information presented in the course not only helps prevent mishaps, but also for Airmen at all levels to go out and meet the priorities their leadership is asking for.
“If you look at General Mike Holmes (commander, ACC), his number one priority is readiness,” Massa said. “So I think this workshop allows us to contribute to that to enable us to have ready Airmen. If we’re practicing safety and we’re using the human factors analysis to investigate what the common trends are, those trends can be used to ensure those mishaps or incidents don’t occur in the future, and that ultimately equates to ready Airmen and the readiness to enable us to do our mission in ACC.”