Our quest for zero

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Monique R. Wright
  • 99th Air Base Wing Safety Office
Day in, and day out, we try to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the Nellis AFB mission; from the airmen basic replacing a sink facet to a colonel flying a training sortie, we all have some part in fulfilling this mission. The question is, how safe do each of us complete our part?

On average, the 99th Air Base Wing Safety Office investigates one mishap a week. That means something, or someone, damaged government property, or a military or civilian member incurred an occupational illness or was injured on- or off-duty.

For fiscal 2015, the Air Force Safety Center has developed a campaign called "Quest for Zero" and set a goal to reach every Airman with the message that safety starts with hazard awareness; and hazards are mitigated by knowledge and compliance. To enhance this goal we want to emphasize the role of risk management in on-duty safety. 

First, to apply a concept you have to know what it is. Risk management is a decision-making process to systematically evaluate possible courses of action, identify risks and benefits, and determine the best course of action for any given situation. The appropriate use of risk management can increase an organization's and individual's ability to safely and effectively accomplish their mission or activity while preserving assets and safeguarding health and welfare.

How do we apply the risk management concept to our daily activities? The first step is to identify hazards. Think of a hazard as something that could cause you, your co-workers or government property harm or damage. The focus area is on duty so you need to be on the lookout for a changing work environment. When a new piece of equipment or new chemical is introduced, those items have hazards you may have not been aware of and this is when you need to identify them. With any activity, identify and list hazards and/or factors that may lead to dangers and risks associated with the operation or activity.

Next, assess the hazards you have identified. This is to determine the likelihood and severity of the negative effects that may result from exposure to the hazards or risks and will directly affect the mission or activity's success. Once you have completed your assessment you need to develop and select specific strategies and controls that reduce or eliminate the risk. Best-case scenario is to eliminate the risk all together, but if that is not possible ensure long-lasting controls are developed and selected.

Once control measures have been selected, you need to develop a game plan on how to implement them and then actually do it. The short version includes the who, what, when, where and costs of the control measure.

The final step is to supervise and evaluate. Once the controls are in place, the process must be periodically reevaluated to ensure controls remain effective and mission supportive over time.

As long as we all integrate the five-step risk management process into our daily activities, we will safely complete our part of the mission and fulfill the campaign's slogan of "Quest for Zero."