FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 5, 2019) - With the passage of Memorial Day, the deadliest months for Army mishaps - June, July and August - are here, but leaders and Soldiers have an opportunity to refocus their safety efforts with the service-wide annual observance of National Safety Month.
The Army loses an average of 35 Soldiers off duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year, according to data from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center. On-duty mishaps typically spike during the summer as well; for example, more than half of Class A aviation mishaps during all of fiscal 2018 occurred between June and September.
"We believe the risk here is increased exposure," said Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Daugherty, USACRC commanding general and director of Army Safety. "On duty, we're conducting more missions because the weather is conducive to operations, so there are more miles covered in motor vehicles, the aviation training pace goes up, and Soldiers are working in extreme temperatures.
"Off duty, they're driving more for vacations or visits home, riding motorcycles with greater frequency, and boating and swimming while the weather is nice."
The special focus areas of this year's National Safety Month, sponsored by the nonprofit National Safety Council and observed each June, are hazard recognition; slips, trips and falls; fatigue; and impairment. Each of those topics is applicable to Army operations, said USACRC Command Sgt. Maj. Ernest D. Bowen, Jr.
"Every Soldier should be trained to spot hazards and empowered to make on-the-spot corrections," he explained. "Slips, trips and falls are a major contributor to lost workdays for both Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians.
"Fatigue is a known issue both on and off duty, and we estimate impairment or other indiscipline-related misconduct is a factor in more than 40 percent of all the Army's private motor vehicle fatalities."
Using the month of June to reassess safety programs and target specific hazards unique to the unit will set leaders up for success through the remainder of fiscal 2019, Daugherty and Bowen agreed.
"Is my driver training program up to standard? Is my unit suffering an inordinate number of PMV mishaps? What is my plan to prevent heat injury? These are the type of questions leaders should be asking themselves," Daugherty said. "This is the perfect time, early in summer, to look at your unit's safety culture and hit the problem areas."
The USACRC recently developed a summer safety webpage, https://safety.army.mil/MEDIA/Seasonal-Safety-Campaigns/Summer-Safety-2019, to provide mitigation tips for off-duty hazards. In addition to original content produced by the USACRC, the webpage includes National Safety Month products from the NSC, a result of the Army's partnership with the organization to enhance workplace safety.
For more information on both on- and off-duty safety, visit https://safety.army.mil.