Maj. Woodrow Anderson did not expect to graduate with honors from the Army Safety and Composite Risk Management Course he attended at Fort Knox, Ky., but he plans on using his new-found knowledge to implement new measures that will improve his unit's safety program.
Anderson said the course gave him a better understanding of a safety officer's duties and responsibilities, and he plans on taking a more critical look at the unit's safety program before suggesting some procedural and personnel changes.
"The takeaway is that there's a lot we have to do at the unit," said Anderson, executive officer 6th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 94th Training Division.
Anderson was one of 49 Reserve Soldiers who attended the course, which the 80th Training Command (TASS) hosted in conjunction with the U. S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center March 17-21, 2014.
The 80th is the only Army Reserve command currently hosting the course, which is designed to help units comply with the Department of the Army Safety and Occupational Health Objectives for fiscal year 2014.
While it's intended for junior leaders, Virgilio A. Munoz, 80th TC Safety and Occupational Health Specialist, says the class helps to enhance the skills of individuals who work as safety officers in an additional duty capacity.
"They're my eyes and ears at the units," Munoz said, referring to the Additional Duty Safety Officers who take an online course to get certified.
Master Sgt. Chuck Underwood, one of two instructors from the Army safety center who taught the course, said the curriculum familiarizes students with safety regulations and they leave knowing which manuals to reference for solutions to safety issues.
"It's impossible to memorize everything, so it's important to be able to know where to find the information you need," Underwood said.
On day two of the class, Command Sgt. Maj. James Wills, the command senior enlisted leader, told the students that it was up to them to sell their unit leaders on the benefits of an effective safety program.
"Don't let this course material sit on the back seat of your car," Wills said. "Make sure that your command teams understand that what you learned here needs to be incorporated into your unit training."
Underwood said unit leaders at all levels should attend the course, even if they're not appointed safety officers.
"This knowledge creates a second line of defense for the commander and the safety officer," he said. "Commanders, first sergeants, platoon sergeants, and platoon leaders need to come through, because this is a combat multiplier. By regulation safety needs to be incorporated into every aspect of training."
On the last day, Munoz told the students that changing the culture at their units might be their biggest challenge.
"There are people who will resist change," said Munoz, who also told the students that it was import to keep up with the constantly changing safety polices and procedures.
"You have the basic knowledge; you have to support your unit and your commander," he said. "At the end of the day you're protecting Soldiers, equipment and facility."
Anderson said, Soldiers who attend the course could walk away with knowledge that could make an impact on unit operations.