By Sgt. 1st Class Stephen GibsonMarch 1, 2018
Safety is about standards--not only setting standards but also enforcing them. The 595th Transportation Brigade's safety mission is to preserve warfighting capabilities and enhance the force by providing a safe and healthy environment for Soldiers, families, civilians, and contractors.
The brigade has made great progress in reducing accidents, occupational injuries and illnesses, and equipment losses by ensuring that composite risk management is integrated into all it does. When leaders at every level emphasize safety in the workplace and are consistent with their messaging, it shows how serious the brigade is about safety.
Emphasizing safety includes these important actions:
• Conducting daily safety briefings.
• Ensuring everyone has the proper personal protective gear.
• Incorporating composite risk management into all actions.
• Ensuring contractors have the proper licensing and certifications for port operations.
• Being vigilant in daily activities to identify safety hazards.
• Reporting accidents.
Near misses should also be reported. Reporting near misses helps to identify risky actions that have been taken and helps the brigade to implement new procedures to prevent or reduce accidents.
CONTRACTORS AND SAFETY
A unique challenge that the brigade faces is incorporating local contractors in a foreign area of operations into the Army culture of safety and occupational health. The brigade is accountable for a large population of contractors within its area of operations.
A top priority when incorporating contractors into the Army safety culture is ensuring that they understand the unit's commitment to safety and the value that the safety procedures serve. Not all local contractors speak English fluently. When trying to convey the importance of safety to the mission, speakers must ensure their audiences gain a complete understanding of the message that is being conveyed. Leaders can run into a problem when interpreters use a summarization technique of interpreting.
Leaders should ensure that the interpreter is using a simultaneous or consecutive mode. This means that the interpreter interprets the original source material without editing, summarizing, deleting, or adding, while conserving the language level, style, tone, and intent of the speaker. If the message is only summarized, or if tone, style, and intent are not accurately portrayed, it can cause confusion about the importance of safety requirements.
Another challenge is the constant rotation of personnel throughout the area of responsibility, which makes it difficult to keep a knowledge base at the ports. As with many other areas, the ports have a constant turnover of not only Soldiers but also civilians who maintain the safety program.
Not every person who takes over that responsibility will have the same level of experience or knowledge that the last person had, so it is imperative that the personnel who are managing the safety program not only have the proper training but also can be on the ground to complete the risk management process of supervising the implemented procedures. Having safety managers on the ground during operations to conduct spot checks and report their findings assists the commander in gathering information on his or her unit's strengths and weaknesses.
Leaders should ensure personnel who will be overseeing safety at the ports hit the ground already properly trained. This way, the unit will not lose time by having to send the safety professionals back to home station for training.
Safety is a top priority in the brigade and throughout the Army. A unique challenge for the 595th Transportation Brigade is incorporating local contractors into the Army culture of safety and occupational health. The brigade combats this challenge by ensuring that the contractors understand the priority that it places on safety, that interpreters convey leaders' safety messages accurately, and that safety managers and professionals receive the proper training needed to ensure missions are being conducted safely.
Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Gibson is the brigade safety noncommissioned officer for the 595th Transportation Brigade at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Troy University and is a graduate of the Senior Leader Course, Advanced Leader Course, Battle Staff Course, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Career Course, and Basic Leader Course.
This article was published in the March-April 2018 issue of Army Sustainment magazine