Safety as a lifestyle

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Jan Kays)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Jan Kays)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In previous years, this week would have kicked off the Critical Days of Summer, which would bring increased awareness of safety during the summer months; this year, however, the Air Force has done away with CDOS.

The Air Force recognizes that having a heightened awareness of safety is not just for the summer months and has implemented a year-round campaign focusing more on workplace safety to create a culture of intelligent and safe workplace choices that will ultimately spill into Airmen's personal lives.

"Since most of the reported mishaps occur outside of the workplace, the CDOS campaign focused on preventing specific off-duty activities like driving, barbecuing and camping," said Tech. Sgt. Francisco Borjas, 30th Space Wing safety technician. "This approach was like only addressing the symptoms of an illness instead of focusing on the root cause. A person's safety mindset has been the main contributing factor in most mishaps. By emphasizing safety procedures and the use of risk management during on-the-job activities, safety frame of thinking will be etched deeper into our people's minds and spill over into their off-duty activities." 

The recently implemented safety program Quest for Zero, extends the mentality of a safety-cognizant culture year round.

"This will be the first year without the CDOS campaign," said Mike Trudeau, 30th Space Wing ground safety manager. "In looking at mishap rates across the Air Force, CDOS no longer stood out as the time of year for mishaps; there were spikes at different points throughout the year. Let's face it, mishaps can happen anywhere and anytime; not just during summer months."  

Realizing that safety practices at work can easily be translated to life outside of work, the Air Force created Quest for Zero as a way to kill two birds with one stone; job safety and personal safety.

"By focusing on work-related hazards and safety practices, Airmen are trained and equipped with tools intended to keep them safe at work but easily translate into off-duty activities," said Trudeau. "Taking the lessons learned and the safety mindedness from the workplace into off-the-job activities will help make the connection to prevent unnecessary risk no matter where you are or what your activity is. We are lucky enough to work and live in a location where summer weather is 365 days a year."

The concept of creating a safety culture is not a new one; however the approach reflects how the Air Force has changed the way they look at safety as more of an integral task as opposed to a separate activity.

"The Air Force's shift in focus from a seasonal campaign to a year-round campaign shows that the Air Force recognizes mishaps can, and do, occur any time of the year," said Trudeau. "The shift to focus on duty related activities helps us show the safety culture in action, on the job where tasks are more controlled."