43rd Sustainment Brigade
Fort Carson, Colorado
Technical manuals are designed to ensure Soldiers and civilian personnel follow the proper procedures and heed safety warnings when operating or performing maintenance on equipment. Furthermore, Army Regulation 385-10 and the unit safety program provide additional guidance on procedures units should adhere to when conducting assigned missions or tasks. Unfortunately, personnel sometimes fail to follow this guidance and are seriously injured or killed.
Units are mandated to have the appropriate TMs on hand for each piece of equipment within their respective unit and for each mission. Sometimes, however, personnel view a task as so routine that they choose to do it from memory rather than use the TM. These folks might even question why we use TMs in the first place. Well, the answer to that question is simple: it’s because you can’t memorize all the step-by-step procedures and safety warnings in them. For the Soldier mentioned in the following accident sequence, reading the TM would have saved him a world of pain.
One afternoon, a group of 88M (motor transport operator) Soldiers were given a standard task: conduct routine maintenance on M3 Container Roll In/Out Platforms. A Soldier who was untrained and had very little experience began removing the two retaining pins that held a critical piece of the equipment in place. Neither the supervisor nor the Soldier had read the TM, which revealed that use of a lifting device, such as a crane, was required to safely perform the procedure.
As the Soldier removed the last pin, the 370-pound CROP arch fell onto his right arm. Other Soldiers in the immediate area quickly rendered first aid while another Soldier summoned a noncommissioned officer to the scene. The injured Soldier was transported to a hospital, where he underwent several surgeries to fix the injury to his arm. The Soldier was also placed on 30 days of convalescent leave.
The TM is intended to illustrate how a piece of equipment is designed to operate, the procedural steps that are to be followed and the associated safety and warning hazards. Supervisors must provide adequate oversight for their Soldiers. Therefore, both Soldiers and supervisors must be properly trained and should refer to the TM before starting any task or mission, no matter how routine or small it may seem. Never become complacent and deviate from following the standard practical procedure of reading an equipment TM. It might just save your life, your Soldiers’ lives or prevent injury to others around you.