FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 16, 2018) - Equipment maintenance is a necessary and inherently dangerous task. To ensure the well-being of Soldiers and civilians in maintenance facilities, we're required to utilize the risk management process as well as acknowledge potential health and safety hazards that are present in the workplace. We also need to determine where, what and how personnel are likely to become injured or killed. It all starts with the application of the five steps of risk management outlined in Field Manual 5-19.

The benefits of maintaining a safe workplace are many, but what should remain at the forefront of your mind is this: Safety is about protecting our Soldiers and equipment, whether in garrison or on the battlefield. A solid unit safety program allows leaders and supervisors to protect their best resources - Soldiers, equipment and facilities - as well as reduce the amount of costs and time spent with avoidable injuries, accidents and damages to equipment.

In a continuing effort to ensure the safety of personnel during maintenance operations and to provide a safe environment for our Soldiers, leaders and supervisors are encouraged to develop and implement standard operating procedures and policies. In addition, personnel need to be educated on existent Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and National Fire Protection Association regulatory requirements.

The application and adherence of good safety practices while conducting maintenance operations is a force multiplier, and Soldiers and leaders alike should continue to follow established safety procedures. Here are some tips and considerations that just might prevent the next mishap in a maintenance facility or motor pool:

• Keep maintenance bays clean, neat and free of fire hazards at all times. These hazards include chemicals, fuels, rags, wood and paper products and anything else that could cause a fire.

• Maintain vehicle speeds at a minimum when operating within the limits of a maintenance facility, usually 5 to 10 mph, or as posted. Use ground guides always!

• Create and post a safety board in an easily accessible area.

• Eyewash stations and emergency showers should be available in areas where personnel use hazardous chemicals.

• Store petroleum, oil and lubricant products in approved containers and in well-ventilated marked areas. Frequently inspect storage areas where hazardous materials are stored. Ensure contaminated oil and POL products are properly disposed of.

• Have a designated, clearly marked smoking area. Strictly enforce the no-smoking rule and prominently display "NO SMOKING WITHIN 50 FEET" signs.

• Place large, bulky or heavy items away from doors to facilitate easy movement in the event of an emergency.

• Gasoline/gasoline by-products (rags, pans, brushes, etc.) will not be stored indoors of any maintenance facility or storage room at any time. Ensure spill clean-up supplies are available to include shovels, dry sweep, brooms, empty container and protective clothing.

• All lifting devices (jacks, jack stands, hoists, cranes) will be maintained and in usable condition at all times. Inspect these devices periodically according to equipment maintenance manuals and regulations.

• Overhead cranes and hoist assemblies will have the max load capacity stenciled on both sides of the support assembly readily visible by personnel.

• Conduct refueling operations in a safe manner and under supervision because of the inherent danger of flash fires starting from a variety of reasons.

• Operate power tools away from explosives, flammable liquids, gases or dust. Power tools create sparks, which may ignite the dust or fumes.

• Chemical agent resistant coating painting will be conducted only by trained and authorized personnel with appropriate personal protective equipment.

• Store and secure gas cylinders to a wall or fixed surface to prevent tipping, falling or rolling.

• Only fully trained and qualified licensed personnel are authorized to weld. An exhaust system must be present.

• Close off battery shops from the general maintenance area and make sure the shop is clearly marked.

• Ensure fire extinguishers are serviceable and readily available.

• Use lubrication pits for servicing military vehicles only. Pits will be well ventilated and illuminated. A steel fence will be used at all times when a vehicle is not over the pit. Store battery packs away from other metal objects.

• Ensure serviceable PPE is readily available to all personnel.

The overall effectiveness of a safety program is measurable through leadership engagement, personal involvement and supervision. Leaders must insist on adherence of established safety rules and standards while continually evaluating their mission for innovative preventive measures that will enhance the unit's safety program. We must remember that whether working in a maintenance tent or motor pool, the safety of our Soldier is paramount!

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