Stay safe, the Air Force needs you

CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The Air Force Occupational Safety and Health program provides a safe and healthful work environment for the men and women who serve, work and play in the United States Air Force.

I have always heard that the greatest form of flattery is imitation. Being a reservist who works safety in both the corporate and military worlds, I have seen the Air Force used as a benchmark for corporate safety programs. For a long time, corporate companies used to be only concerned with safety in the workplace.

Corporate management thoughts were, "Just don't get hurt here at work ... and whatever happens outside of here, we don't care about." Their main concern was staying below the injury frequency rating standards set by OSHA.

The Air Force has realized the ripple effect of a military member injured at work, home or play, on duty or off. Not only what this loss could potentially mean to mission capability, but what it meant outside of the mission as well.

How would it affect his or her family? An injury could keep him from playing catch with his son or from riding a bike with his daughter. How would it affect his or her sports activities? His bowling team will be short one team member for the next two weeks or his softball team will be short a pitcher for the next four games.

The affects on the mission could also be felt by the increased work hours to cover the loss, a project on hold or completed late, or someone else having to deploy in place of the injured member.

Corporations have come to realize that the effects of an injured worker go far beyond just not having them at work, regardless of where he was hurt. Corporate America has adopted a more caring attitude toward its workers and their families.

An injured employee has direct and indirect costs involved. First there are medical costs, which indirectly cost the company money. Direct costs can include lost production, over-time to help make up for lost production or the retraining of another employee. This realization has caused corporations to begin talking and teaching about safety at home and at play as well as the workplace. Sound familiar? Imitation -- so we should be flattered, and we are.

Safety to the Air Force means this: nothing is more important than your safety ... nothing! Without you, there is no way a mission can be accomplished, and without a mission, there is no Air Force. You often hear the term "Air Force family." It wouldn't be much of a family if they didn't care about yours.

Safety is here to protect you, to keep you safe and let you spend quality time with your family doing the things you enjoy. The Air Force can accomplish more with you than without you.