Better safe than sorry!

Getting back to basics can save lives (Illustration by Felicia M. Hall)

Getting back to basics can save lives (Illustration by Felicia M. Hall)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Sure, it's an easy line to say, but are you practicing it? More importantly, are you supervising or being supervised with that mindset?

As a friend or co-worker, caring about each other's well-being is incidental to that military family membership, but as a supervisor, it's a responsibility. Protecting your personnel in the workplace isn't something that should end up being on-the-job-training. As a supervisor, you have a responsibility to educate the personnel assigned to you on the hazards they may encounter before they begin to work. Supervisors are considered the expert on workplace and job safety.

You should fully understand occupational risks and brief job hazards, hazardous chemicals and personal protective equipment, proper lifting techniques, location of medical facilities, location of fire protection equipment, emergency procedures, mishap reporting requirements, reporting of unsafe conditions, equipment, or procedures and risk management. Supervisors are required to have their subordinates sign an Air Force Form 55, Employee Safety and Health Record, acknowledging they fully understand the dangers and safety procedures associated with their work center.

Always provide full and detailed information to new employees. Never assume an individual knows the information simply because of their age or experience-level. It is better to repeat safety procedures and information then to omit them as it further enforces your supervisory expectation for employees to follow guidance and to maintain a safe and injury-free workplace.

Supervisors have a 24/7 job, so they have to ensure their personnel are safe off-duty as well. Do you discuss what plans they have for the weekend? Have you helped them to mitigate any risks associated with their plans? Do you know who participates in high-risk activities in your work center? Is an Air Education and Training Command Form 410, High Risk Activities Worksheet, on file and have you discussed those activities to ensure proper training and PPE is used?

Safety isn't just a check-the-box process, and when done correctly, can be very valuable to your personnel and maybe even their loved ones. Sometimes, all it takes is a thought and quick discussion to help prevent what could be a very unfortunate mishap. Whether it's an on- or off-duty activity, take the time to discuss how safety is integrated into the activity. You know - better safe than sorry!