Creating the right culture

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Travis Zimmer
  • 908th Airlift Wing
The ultimate objective of any Air Force organization is to maximize combat capability and preserve assets. Said another way, the Air Force Safety philosophy is: "The mission is paramount but the trick is to do it as safely as possible."

Air Force weapon systems and the equipment used to support those systems are more costly than ever, but our most valuable asset is the people that use those systems and equipment to accomplish our mission.

Amid the bustle of the day's activity of people carrying out their specific roles, I was reminded how each of us has a purpose for which we were individually created and uniquely equipped. To quote Command Chief Duke: "If you have a pulse, you have a purpose."

Furthermore, every airman is a son or daughter, a spouse, a parent, a neighbor, or a friend. Protecting these most valuable Air Force assets, who are indispensable to their purpose and irreplaceable to their people, is our primary concern in the Wing Safety Office.

I love my job as the Chief of Safety, but you might wonder what that job entails. I am the wing commander's principal advisor on, and administrator of, his safety program. The 908th Safety Office mission is to maximize our warfighting capability and protect our Airmen through the prevention of mishaps, injuries, and fatalities so that we, as 908th Airmen, can accomplish our shared mission of "providing unrivaled theater airlift and flexible combat support across the spectrum of military operations."

Safety programs have two overarching responsibilities that serve this mission: Mishap Prevention and Mishap Investigation. It is everyone's responsibility to proactively manage risks and mitigate hazards.

This must begin with a culture of safety in each unit. Our Airmen deserve a work environment where unnecessary hazards are eliminated and necessary hazards are understood and the associated risks are mitigated. This is no less than living up to our Air Force Core Values: "Integrity First," "Service Before Self" and "Excellence in All We Do!"

This article is the first in a series designed as a conversation about creating a "culture of safety" in the workplace. I hope they inform and encourage each of us to maximize our warfighting capability and protect our ourselves and our fellow Airmen.