FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico -- "Safety is written in blood," that is how George RomAfA!n describes the tragic, sometimes deadly, consequences of accidents in the workplace and at home.

To promote safety and institute preventative measures, RomAfA!n, the installation safety specialist and Alfredo Nogueras, the safety officer have grown the ranks of collateral duty safety officers at the garrison.

At a recent meeting with the CDSOs, held Jan. 18, RomAfA!n and Nogueras spoke with them to address any of their concerns and plan for future training, which would expand the group's understanding of good safety practices. In the meeting, RomAfA!n and Nogueras charted the future of the CDSO program by tentatively scheduling follow up training and also allowing their safety deputies to voice safety program implementation concerns and clarify roles.

During the meeting one CDSO asked what he should do if he sees an unsafe situation outside of his area of responsibility such as in a directorate apart from his own. While the answer might be clear to many who have experience with the saying "everyone is a safety officer," it was important for RomAfA!n to clarify the CDSO roles.

RomAfA!n said it was completely within their authority to stop or report an unsafe act regardless of where at Fort Buchanan it was occurring. "If there is something that doesn't look right, consult with us, talk to us, call us, you know ... let the phone ring, and leave a message. Tell us, 'Hey I see something funny can somebody come out here and take a look at it and tell me if it is indeed a safety hazard,'" RomAfA!n said.

Clarifying questions like that serve to give CDSOs the confidence they need when faced with a questionable situation. For others the ambiguity is less apparent.

"We do a lot of our operations at the airport, which is a high risk area and we deal with aircraft, we deal with buses, and trucks in the area, and that's one of the areas (the airport) where I concentrate a lot on safety," said CDSO Luis Cruz Montes, the installation transportation office's traffic manager.

"Our office is responsible for coordinating all the transportation that they (Soldiers) need," said Cruz.

While collateral duty safety officers are generally supervisors who are able to hold members of their staff responsible for violations, Cruz said his staff has such good processes in place that many of them do routine safety checks without really realizing that they are safety checks, adding: "We have a well disciplined group, some of our people don't realize that we do it daily, it's that automatic."

Cruz has taken away valuable information from the collateral duty safety officer meetings but one of the pieces of information he likes to emphasize to his staff is the importance of incorporating risk assessments into their decision making processes at home with their families.

"It's a challenge but it's part of the job, as a supervisor. No matter if I have that title or not (CDSO) I am still responsible for the safety of my people," said Cruz.

He said educating his employees to be safer at home has become one of the biggest advantages of the program. That kind of a take away is what RomAfA!n likes to point to as an example of promoting a pervasive culture of safety for the garrison workforce.

Fort Buchanan's Safety office can now claim a collateral duty safety officer in every directorate after adding 16 CDSOs to their ranks over the past few months. The expansion of the program can be accredited to collaboration between the garrison safety office, directorates and Fort Buchanan leaders' encouragement of a strong safety program.

"We want them (CDSOs) to be vigilant within their local area to make sure that safety is part of what they do every day and that it just isn't bypassed," said RomAfA!n.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16