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380AEW Article

Safety team ensures well-being, protection for all personnel

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

From the seasonal changes and motorcycle riders to the aircraft mishaps and munitions storage programs, safety is an absolute necessity on every military installation.

The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing safety shop at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, is divided into three sections – flight, occupational, and weapons. These sections oversee safety for the installation, ranging as broadly as the Airmen constantly working to weapons such as hand grenades.

With aircraft being an important element of the Air Force’s mission to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace, flight safety safeguards all programs related to aircraft.

“Safety comes in two flavors, proactive and reactive,” said Master Sgt. Robert Jeffries, 380th AEW flight safety NCO. “It’s best to be proactive. Probably the biggest proactive safety we do is brief new incoming aircrew on unique local challenges, known hazards, and lessons learned from recent mishaps. We also do spot inspections to make sure operations are being conducted in a safe manner and we play a role in risk acceptance by reviewing and approving waivers with mitigation actions.”

“For reactive safety, we investigate aircraft mishaps after they occur,” Jeffries said. “This involves taking pictures of damage, reviewing the aircrew report and maintenance history, and interviewing those involved when more information is needed. The end goal is to accurately determine causes and recommend meaningful changes that will prevent mishaps from occurring. We interface with many units in our work: the flying squadrons, airfield management, aircraft maintenance, public affairs and coalition partners are a few big ones.”

Collaborating with Air Force partners is just one aspect of the job. From the hundreds of pages of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, on top of the Air Force safety regulations, occupational safety ensures that safety measures are made at almost every level in the Air Force by working closely with personnel.

“Occupational safety ensures mishap prevention and safety program compliance throughout the Wing,” said Senior Master Sgt. Zachary Chapin, 380th AEW occupational safety manager. “We serve as advisors to the commanders and supervisors at all levels as they work diligently to provide safe and healthful work environments for their Airmen.”

The most important asset to the Air Force’s lethality is weaponry. The Weapons safety team is responsible for advising leadership “whose mission is dependent on storing, handling, or using explosives,” said Master Sgt. James Ross, 380th AEW weapons safety manager.

“Mishaps are inevitable, but this is where we differ from criminal or other investigations which look to place blame on individuals,” Ross said. “In the event of a mishap, Weapons Safety investigates to develop trends which often identify equipment and process driven failures to prevent future occurrences. We train commander appointed safety representatives to serve as the eyes and ears for their explosives program. Safety representatives are key elements in the safety machine in performing spot inspections to discover and remedy of issues at the lowest level. Wing Weapons Safety Managers communicate issues with Numbered Air Force’s and Major Commands that cannot be handled at the wing level. Higher headquarters guidance is then used to determine resolutions and used as a shared resource for the Air Force Safety Center.”

Together these three sections work together to make sure personnel assigned to the 380th AEW and their workspaces are in tip-top shape.

With the nature of the team’s mission of working nearly hand-in-hand with commanders and other senior leaders of the Air Force, they’re constantly reminded with how much of an impact that can make on others and their contribution to the AF as well.

“Early on in the rotation, we had an incident involving an RQ-4 and airfield driver,” said Capt. Julian Spinoza, 380th AEW chief of flight safety. “Thankfully, nothing was damaged. While investigating, it became apparent that instruction to drivers was lacking regarding Remote-Piloted Aircraft. We recommended a change to the airfield driving regulation and training. This is a relatively new and rapidly developing facet of aviation, so it was rewarding to make a meaningful impact on the integration of the RQ-4 and airfield drivers.”

Innovation coincides with the Safety realm of the Air Force so much that they’re always looking for ways to not only educate themselves, but all Airmen across the board.

“The Air Force Safety Center adopted a program called, ‘ASAP’ a few years ago,” Jeffries said. “It stands for Airman Safety Action Program. Similar to civilian aviation, ASAP allows members to report potential hazards not otherwise reported through safety channels.  Take a look at AFI 91-225 Chapter 3 and download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play.  You may also visit the website via the Air Force Portal.”

This dedicated and hardworking team is always on the go executing spot inspections or constantly finding ways to improve the standards and invincibility of the Air Force.