Managing risks of an every-day AF life

  • Published
  • By Capt. Heather Tevebaugh
  • 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
Is Risk Management (RM) simply a required checklist to complete before performing your duties -something to cover the basics? What about RM and your off-duty activities? The fact that the Air Force loses more Airmen to off-duty mishaps compared to on duty warrants a look at what we do every day that puts us at risk.

As the dreary winter weather gives way to summer, we're all ready to get out, fire up the barbeque, travel and spend time outdoors. However, summertime is a time when safety professionals hold their breath -not because of increased operations, deployments or longer shifts, but because of what you do off duty. No doubt you've had many long-weekend safety briefings, and while those events are good for sharing information, warnings, etc, the most influential way to foster a 24/7 safety mindset results from conversations within your work area and with your family.

The idea of talking about safety, outside of a mandatory briefing, never hit home until my previous assignment with 15 years of service. My flight commander found creative ways to make it personal and to get us to think about what we do every day and the risks associated. We had the required briefings for high-interest items and long weekends, but here's where he made an impact: instead of long lectures filled with stats, he asked each of us to identify our weekend activity with the highest risk. He then asked us to give the risks or hazards associated with that event and ways to mitigate, or reduce, the level of risk.

I don't think any of us were surprised when someone mentioned activities including kayaking, nights out at the club or skydiving as presenting multiple risks. But for me I am a mom of teenagers. My off-duty time happily revolves around transporting them to sporting, acting and social events. I never saw this as risky until the day we talked about it. So what's the high-risk associated with transporting my kids to these every day events?

A quick survey of fiscal year 2012 statistics reveals that driving is indeed dangerous! We've lost eight Airmen in car accidents so far this year--each of these were part of our Air Force team and loved by family; they're irreplaceable. This new perspective on how I identified risk transformed something as routine as driving a car into a potential high-risk activity with serious consequences.

What remained was to mitigate, or reduce, my risk associated with driving. Simple things like being well rested, staying off the cell phone and keeping my car clean to prevent flying debris in an accident. Seat belts are required for all passengers, regardless how short the ride. A well-maintained vehicle, quality tires and at least a half of tank of gas all reduce my risk of a breakdown or being stranded on the road.

Simple enough, right? Yet, we lost an Airman this year who was struck by a car while changing his tire.
RM is more than a quick mandatory briefing or required checklist and we should never forget our off-duty activities.

What is it that you do that poses a risk: mowing the yard, crafts, working out, do-it-yourself projects around the house, etc.? Take time to discuss the risks and ways to mitigate them with your supervisor, co-workers and never forget with your family. To be forewarned is to be forearmed: be prepared with a 24/7 safety mindset as you head out to enjoy the wonderful summer weather--make it your goal to enjoy a fun, safe 2012 with NO regrets!