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CARR Initiative Seeks Safer Work Environments

Comprehensive Air Force Materiel Command Risk Reduction (CARR) determines if training, safety, process, compliance or teamwork problems are isolated cases or if they exist throughout the command.

By John Scaggs / Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio, May 11, 2006 – Spring cleaning often includes reorganizing the garage. Tools are prearranged on walls or in drawers. Routine maintenance is performed on lawn equipment. Hazardous materials are stored where children cannot reach them. These efforts help minimize injuries and increase job efficiency.

Imagine the challenges if the "garage" covered several square miles and its tools and materials were used daily by thousands of workers.

Further, what if some workers were not properly trained to use all of the tools while others who were trained chose not to follow process or safety guidelines?

Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command began evaluating and analyzing similar shortfalls at its bases in May 2005.

One year later, corrective measures are under way following an April 24 briefing in which Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command A-staff and two-letter agencies outlined their action plans to eliminate risks, promote compliance with Air Force standards, and protect resources.

"It's up to our leadership to make sure people know what is expected of them, and to make sure they have the training and tools necessary to safely comply with standards."

Cathy Turnipseed, CARR team lead

It's part of an initiative known as Comprehensive Air Force Materiel Command Risk Reduction, or CARR. The program determines if training, safety, process, compliance or teamwork problems are isolated cases or if they exist throughout the command.

"In situations where research concluded the problem was command-wide, the finding was assigned to the appropriate agency within Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command," explained Cathy Turnipseed, team lead for the CARR initiative. "That agency then had to propose solutions and a method to track how successful the solutions are."

One A-staff agency's action plan already has resolved an identified problem involving improper transfer of flammable liquid waste.

A7, the Installations and Mission Support Directorate, had the Department of Defense-wide Assessment Guide revised and added information to an Air Force Instruction supplement that directs Air Force Materiel Command bases to the right office for oversight.

A7's Civil Engineer Office, along with the Air Force Materiel Command Safety Office, distributed a joint memo alerting the work force to the potential hazard and documentation changes.

Updated plans, along with procedures outlining how to make a safe flammable liquid transfer, now are more accessible to the work force.

A7 officials will track awareness and adherence to these changes through the Environmental and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program.

Designed by the Air Force, the program has two objectives: to ensure Air Force environmental and occupational health programs meet federal, local, Department of Defense and Air Force compliance standards; and to eradicate underlying environmental and occupational health issues at their core.

A7 is one of nine A-staff and two-letter agencies that created 39 action plans, each with its own timeline. The plans address 58 command-wide problems and suggest 172 recommendations to fix the problems.

These numbers resulted from root cause analyses performed by 15 Air Force Materiel Command risk reduction teams.

Each team included a subject matter expert and a senior civilian or officer outside of the functional area. Most teams also had base representatives.

CARR stems from a similar initiative at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. A Focus Area Risk Reduction, or FARR, assessment began in 2004 as Robins' senior leaders sought a way to reverse the trend of rising work place accidents and violent crimes.

A 250-member assessment team scrutinized base operations and all safety aspects. The team wrote a report with 1,864 problems ranging from minor procedural errors to life-threatening hazards.

Corrective actions had a positive impact at Robins Air Force Base. Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command officials formed another team to determine if findings at Robins Air Force Base existed across the entire command.

Ultimately, Air Force Materiel Command officials want CARR to be the catalyst for a culture of compliance and risk management among workers.

"People need to understand the risks associated with not following safe practices," said Turnipseed. "The potential consequences - injuries, lost workdays, damage to equipment - aren't worth it."

"It's up to our leadership to make sure people know what is expected of them, and to make sure they have the training and tools necessary to safely comply with standards," he emphasized.

Along with continuously seeking to improve communication and problem-solving processes, CARR goals should help Air Force Materiel Command's work force navigate their "garages" more effectively.

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Jul. 31, 2014
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