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Don't Be That Guy

Don't Be That Guy

751st Troop Command
Kentucky Army National Guard
Frankfort, Kentucky

Being an aviation safety officer is a tough job to have in an environment of Type A personalities that don’t respond well to criticism. In fact, these aviators may turn the other way or walk off when they see a safety officer approaching. Instead, they should be open-minded and receptive to their corrections and suggestions. Deep down, safety officers mean well and are simply trying to do their job. But what happens when that safety officer interacts with Soldiers in an unprofessional manner?

I would like to share some experiences with a not-so-professional safety officer that served at my flight facility. He was arrogant and liked to thump his chest and talk about his many accomplishments in a very condescending manner to everyone he interacted with. I recall one safety class in which the colonel asked him not to use such big words that no one understood. His response was that he was not going to “dumb down” his presentation.

Another instance occurred when he was updating the safety board. He was standing on a rolling office chair to reach the top of the board. A Soldier brought him a maintenance stand and pointed out that the chair with wheels was not the best platform to stand on. The Soldier was immediately dressed down for daring to correct him.

One of the instructor pilots best summed up what everyone thought of this officer. The safety officer asked the IP one day: “Why is my program ineffective?” The IP responded, “Your safety program makes people want to be unsafe.”

A good safety officer is a salesman who is trying to make sure all Soldiers are buying into the safety culture. It’s not an easy job. We need to be tactful and considerate of others. Most Soldiers try to be safe and do the right thing at all times. We need to be there to guide them on the right path when they stray, not berate them or make them look bad in front of others.

Understandably, there will be instances where a firm hand is needed, but that should be the exception, not the rule. We need to help the organization with any safety concern that may arise. We should be that person who Soldiers willingly come to when they have questions. Don’t be the ASO that shows up for a few minutes with a clipboard pointing out unsafe actions or conditions, then turns and leaves. Spend time with the Soldiers while they are working. See what they encounter on a daily basis and help them do their jobs more safely. If you are approachable and personable, they will seek you out when they have an issue or question.

When you approach a group of Soldiers, the response should be, “Hey, it’s the safety officer!” not, “Look out, here comes the safety officer!” Treat all Soldiers with respect and your next call from the motor pool may not be for an accident or safety issue. It may be an invite to a Friday afternoon cookout!

  • 1 July 2015
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 9812
  • Comments: 0
Categories: On-DutyAviation