16 February 2011
Safety as a Culture:
A Commentary
By Dee Christian
Plans, Analysis and Integration Office
I never once gave thought to putting on a bike helmet (I didn't even own one). And as I grew, and started driving, I didn't think much about putting on my seatbelt when I got into the car. We played neighborhood sports without mouth guards and boldly went swimming in local ponds without lifeguards.
It's a wonder we survived! It wasn't until I joined the Army back in 1984 that I was introduced to safety as a culture. Rules and regulations were in place to ensure our safety as soldiers in the field, in the workplace, and at home.
The Army has continually built on the desire to keep Soldiers, civilians and families safe. "Accidents represent a serious problem, accounting for more deaths, disability and loss of productivity in DoD than any other cause. The goal is to have no loss of life through needless or senseless acts," according to Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, IMCOM Commander, in his Safety Policy (Policy Memorandum 385-10-1).
As the Army builds on its safety program, it has indeed effected a cultural change. Through programs like the Voluntary Protection Program, the Accident Reporting system and composite risk management, leaders have given the power to employees to take safety matters into their own hands.
Employees are expected to work safely and ensure their co-workers do the same.
Although we may not realize that we are doing it, we often assess composite risks in everyday life. We look at a situation and decide whether it is worth the risk of doing it.
For example, I am preparing to cross the street in the crosswalk, and I look both ways before stepping off the curb. A car is coming toward me. I have to decide if I want to risk stepping off and hoping the car stops for me, or whether I should play it safe and wait for the vehicle to pass and the way is clear.

This is a simplified example of risk assessment. And because I have been a part of this safety culture, I will wait for the car to pass.
Through the US Army Garrison's journey to earning its Voluntary Protection Program Star Site status, employees have learned that they are empowered to be a part of the safety program and are encouraged to think safety.
The VPP program encompasses management leadership and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.
It is through this program that the garrison has been able to decrease the number and severity of work-related accidents. Safe employees are happier employees.
These are just a few ways that the garrison and Fort Detrick are keeping our Soldiers, civilians and families safe. And as we embark on the next step of IMCOM's safety plan, we will strive to "Achieve a Higher Safety Standard."By Dee ChristianPlans, Analysis and Integration Office I remember when I was younger and I would tell my mom on a Saturday morning, "I'm going to ride my bike!"
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