BAS 425 Educational Narrative
[Name redacted; Identifying information altered throughout document]
Everything that is done in the professional aerospace maintenance area has many safety and health concerns. From the start of working on the flightline you are drilled with concerns, safety standards and training after training on how to be safe in the workplace. With my current job, I work hand in hand with many cancerous materials as well as heavy machinery on a daily basis. I have also been put into the position of a quality assurance inspector who is responsible for keeping track and maintaining the safety rules and regulations. Hopefully this will be enough to show my exemplary knowledge of the culture of safety.
1. Do you have any of the certifications that count as course equivalency? If so, please provide them in your Supporting Documentation, and Congratulations! You’ve earned this course credit. If not, please answer the questions below.
2. Describe the basis for the OSH Act, the OSHA inspection process, standards, and reporting of workers compensation records and statistics.
The basis of the OSHA Act is about creating a safer workplace through the knowledge and efforts of every employer. Whether it be from hazardous chemicals to day to day safety such as tripping hazards or medical mishaps. Throughout my years in the Air Force, it is beaten into us through annual training. Just to name a few are hangar door awareness, confined spaces training, fire safety, hazardous communication, driving training, corrosion control training, CPR training, cyber awareness, and countless others. As a non-commissioned officer in charge, I must make sure that each of these areas is taught to the airmen that work with me. I was even selected to become a Quality Assurance (QA) inspector where it was my daily routine to travel between all different kinds of shops to point out infractions and brief my findings to the person in charge. We used this as a teaching experience to correct the issue, which comes into play with OSHA’s effective enforcement program.
This leads us into the OSHA Inspection Process. As QA, when inspecting a workplace it was required by OSHA/AFOSH to complete a face to face brief with the supervision to go over the items that would be inspected. It was also my responsibility to brief all findings and create general safety announcements monthly and quarterly for all members working on aircraft. Then the inspection would begin where we would walk around verifying compliance with all criteria in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and Air Force Instructions (AFI). Once all findings were found before we left there was an out brief or closing conference of all violations. At the end of the day, we input all of these items in a database. This database tracked everything and would ping us if there was a trend forming then built a spreadsheet for each month. As for reporting of workers’ compensation records and statistics, it would be directly related to all the Air Force forms that we are required to keep track of. From safety mishap reports including injuries/aircraft damages, these items are kept track of by QA and also used to update medical records. QA keeps track of these records for the past 5 years to track trends which can then be briefed and if the need arises to create a new key task listing to ensure we are taking all steps to mitigate future issues.
When I held the role as a QA inspector it was my responsibility to manage and keep track of all safety mishaps and report them up the chain of command. These 2-page forms were directly mimicked from OSHA’s original compensation forms minus all of the claims information since we have medical and receive pay even when we are suspended from work due to injuries. These are also for recording vital information for the events leading up to the accident and once again play into the trends that I spoke of earlier. In the civilian workplace it would put on record that a business may have issues with a certain area of safety. If there are multiple injuries due to the same step in a process, it would allow a new measure of safety to be introduced, hopefully correcting future mishaps.
3. Tell a story from your experience of an unsafe work condition or workplace accident and how you were part of the process to change the conditions to follow a culture of safety. What have been the effects or impacts of the changes you made?
Before my QA role, I was in charge of running a Wash Rack where we wash aircraft. When I first took over the program I was inspecting all job-related aspects. These items consisted of slip/fall protection, tripping hazards, hazardous communications dealing with hazardous materials, fall protection, and personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements. All aspects seemed to be in order minus the fall protection. Washing on top of a wet aircraft was one of the biggest risks that we faced for the most part. When the program was given to me, the hanger lacked harness points and lanyards. This was a major safety violation and I was required to build my case to expedite the ordering and installation of appropriate fall protection as stated in the guidelines put forth by OSHA. As I dug into the CFR, I found all the information to ensure we were compliant with anchorage, personal fall arrest systems, and had applicable inspections documented for the items. After all information was gathered and I had a plan of attack, it was all on coordinating with other agencies to get the contracts filled. First was the reinforcements of the hanger overhead beams, and mounting points attached. The second was the safety and weight test required by the CFR. Finally, was the first test of the lanyard system required by the AFI and taught individuals using the OSHA fall protection video along with an instructor’s guide. Soon after getting all of my ducks in a row and building binders for other supervisors to follow along, I began to build a tracking sheet of all instructors to whom I was able to teach and pass my knowledge. This in return allowed for many more members to get the basic safety training of the fall arrest systems that had been put in place.
- Describe the role of safety and health professionals in your workplace. In your experience, how is a safety and health professional part of a culture of safety in the workplace?
The role of safety and health professionals in the workplace spans multiple areas. These areas include training personnel, documentation of incidents and other discrepancies, inputting findings to analyze data, fostering higher workplace standards, and finally making plans to create better practices while staying compliant with OSHA Standards and regulations. This part of the culture of safety in the workplace is widely needed to keep workers from slipping into complacency. Constantly I see complacency being one of the major factors of workplace safety. Today, I walked into the fabrication shop and immediately pinpointed multiple safety violations. Imagine walking in and seeing the floor dusted yellow with paint, you know for a fact that this color is only used for primer, for aircraft parts. This yellow primer is also heavy in chromium, from the safety data sheets (SDS) you need specific PPE, a well-ventilated area, and a forced air respirator. The part also being sprayed in the working area where we are allowed to eat is a violation of health safety as well. In my position, immediately called all workers into the area and briefed what was wrong, and had individuals take turns reading the datasheet to get a better understanding of why it was wrong. This issue began because of complacency; we became too comfortable working around chemicals and would fail to take the extra time to don PPE in order to get the job done quicker. This oversight resulted in bypassing the necessary safety requirements. This is how safety and health professionals play a part in a culture of safety in the workplace. Now it is my job to create a brief for the entire 46 man shop, implement new safety plans to include a checklist when parts in the shop need protective corrosion coatings. Hopefully, revolving the spotlight on certain practices to keep them fresh in the employees’ mind.
- What changes have you seen in occupational safety and health issues during your work experience? How do you view safety differently now than you did earlier in your experience? Use Kolb’s cycle to outline the stages of your learning across your work experience–name each stage and describe what you did at each of the 4 stages step by step in your answer.
Throughout my career, there has been an evolution over the past 13 years that I have been enlisted. This evolution consists of the analysis of trends created in the workplace and finding a way to negate those mishaps from ever happening again. When I first joined, we rarely had down days where there would be no flying for the aircraft and we would focus on training. We would just go about our day at work with the morning roll call and talking about any mishaps that may have occurred the day prior, there was even the Friday safety briefing for the weekend. It wasn’t until about 2015 when we started using these down days to create a group training session on which the shift lead would create an agenda, 2 years later that was my job to take over. We started focusing on the specific regulations, showing airmen where to find the regulations that govern how we complete a task, different programs such as hazmat or haz comm, even the job safety training (JST) binder was opened to refresh individuals on the overall spectrum of safety requirements in the shop.
After about 3 years of being in the Air Force, I began being complacent much like I spoke about in the paragraphs above. Viewing safety when I first joined, my job seemed to be extremely hazardous and I was sure that my future was set in stone because our career field had a lifespan of 55 years of age due to the chemicals that we work with daily. Once I had the opportunity to learn my job and seeing everyone else be relaxed about wearing PPE, I soon found myself slipping into that complacency.
At about year 5, I was at my third duty station in Mildenhall, England and one of my supervisors ended up having lung cancer due to his previous base working on the new F-22 Raptors. Come to find out this was due to the extremely high amounts of pure silver in the paint. This was a reality check for me and brought me back to once again being extremely careful in how I handled all the hazardous materials. I began digging into the different AFI’s, technical orders, and SDS’s to make sure that I was following all the guidelines when working with composites of the CV-22 Osprey. If you are not sure what that is, the half helicopter half airplane is completely carbon fiber. Carbon fiber when it is in its raw form has barbs on each fiber which can root itself into your skin and will need to be surgically removed, the resin is also quite cancerous as well. As I began to take to heart all of the safety requirements I enjoyed doing the research and soon took over the program for the hazardous communication program.
At my 6 year mark, I once again changed bases and made my way to Mountain Home, Idaho. Here I would pick up on being in a supervision role, become a mentor, trainer, and soon be thrown into a leadership role over those next 5 years. Once we began doing the training days that I spoke of earlier, I immersed myself into the regulations more so than I did before. Once I began writing the training agendas and overseeing the teachings. I filled in the gaps on points that were missed by the personnel I chose to lead the training exercises. I wanted to get as much information out to the employees that worked with me and stress the importance of each safety concern we should have. After all was said and done, I have moved on to Osan, Korea where I am now trying to put all my past knowledge to work and have begun creating another training agenda in my off time as the little complacencies that members have presented themselves.
So, in the end, I have found safety to be on a case by case basis and training to be specifically molded to the issues on hand. It will not always be a set curriculum for every job you hold. You must adapt along with the findings and analysis that is received from past events.