The Right Tools for the Job
SGT. 1ST CLASS WILFREDO ROSA
U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Across the Army, Soldiers have many different hobbies to occupy their off-duty time. One of the main hobbies I often hear about is Soldiers working on their private motor vehicles. While doing the work themselves may help them save money on a costly repair or modification, it can be dangerous if they don’t have the proper tools to do the job safely.
During a four-day weekend, a fellow Soldier called to ask for my assistance in removing and reinstalling an engine in his vehicle. I had nothing else going on, so I agreed to help him with the job. When I arrived at his house, I found him attempting to remove the engine on his own. I immediately noticed the Soldier did not have a proper hoist to remove the engine. Instead, he had strapped a couple of 2x4s with chains and, to my surprise, the contraption was working.
I told the Solider we should stop working on the vehicle until we could find a proper engine hoist. He replied that he had done this plenty of times in the past and never had an issue. Besides, he continued, the engine was almost completely out. All he needed was help lifting it from the vehicle. I tried to convince the Soldier that the engine was going to be difficult to remove with just the two of us. Just then, the 2x4s gave way and the engine fell to the ground.
The Soldier was shocked. He told me that not even 20 minutes before I arrived he was under the vehicle, removing the engine mounts. Had he been under there when his homemade hoist failed, the results would have been catastrophic. He was alone, so no one could have assisted him in case of an emergency. After this close call, we drove to an equipment rental business to get a real engine hoist and then enlisted the help of a few other Soldiers in the unit. We eventually finished the job without further incident.
Sometimes, what we think are the right tools for the job are actually wrong. As a Soldier, you have options when it comes to working on your vehicle or motorcycle. One of those options is your installation’s automotive skills center. These MWR facilities have the precise tools and equipment you need to help complete your vehicle repairs safely for a nominal fee. In addition, trained personnel are onsite to assist with any questions or to even lend a helping hand. Some skills centers even have special training events free of charge for those Soldiers that prefer to maintain their vehicles themselves.
Leaders must ensure their Soldiers follow good safety practices at all times. The application of risk management will ensure they take the necessary steps to prevent injury — or at least know the tools to help minimize it. Risk management is not just for our on-duty activities. When conducted properly, it will help keep our Soldiers safe off duty as well.