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86th AW fights for safety in mission execution

A speed limit sign displays a happy face when motorists adhere to the speed limit at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The 86th Airlift Wing Safety office advises motorists to exercise caution in school zones to avoid potential mishaps. (U.S. Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

A speed limit sign displays a happy face when motorists adhere to the speed limit at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The 86th Airlift Wing Safety office advises motorists to exercise caution in school zones to avoid potential mishaps. (U.S. Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Airmen assigned to 86th Airlift Wing safety office are responsible for ensuring wing personnel know how to conduct their operations as safely as possible.

Of course, such an occupation is not without its stereotypes.

“Some people say we’re the ‘fun police’,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Morris, 86th AW safety office occupational safety section chief. “The truth is, we’re not out to get you. We’re not out to de-certify you or get you in trouble. We’re here to prevent mishaps and educate all personnel on what happened, and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.”

The safety office identifies four disciplines of safety: occupational, flight, weapons, and human factors.
Occupational safety covers all matters related to the workplace. Airmen in this field visit work areas, make sure everything is in line with safety regulations, and absent of unnecessary hazards. They also conduct investigations and write reports in the event incidents occur.

Flight safety handles everything related to aviation operations.

Weapons safety covers matters pertaining to the Air Force’s arsenal — everything from small arms to large ordnance.

Human factors is the most fluid of the four disciplines; it transcends each realm of safety and is present in most incidents. If a news article about a plane crash were to contain the words “pilot error,” that is an example of human factors contributing to a mishap.

Morris went on to detail the effects of each safety-related incident on the Air Force mission. He gave an example of how a physical injury not only affects an individual, but that person’s unit as well.

“That time (spent on sick quarters) equates to a dollar value for the Air Force,” Morris said. “Someone also has to do their job for them because they’re at home putting ice on their ankle, or they’re on restricted duty for one month. There’s a monetary cost associated with that.”

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Shuntesia Dupree, 86th AW safety superintendent, calls upon all members of the Kaiserslautern Military Community to practice safety at all times. Safety and risk management principles encompass all three of the Air Force’s core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do, she said.

“There is no rank in safety,” said Dupree. “From top to bottom, everyone has an obligation to practice good safety habits. You know the difference between right and wrong, and it’s your duty to uphold safety standards wherever you are at all times.”

“Each day I go home knowing nobody got hurt is a good day for me,” Dupree added. “I think the world would be a better place if everyone worked safer and smarter.”