Joint Base Andrews


ORM key to safe holidays

By Col. Paul R. Ackerley | 316th Wing commander | September 04, 2007

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- Have a good weekend and Be Safe. 

How many times have you heard that before you started a long weekend? Probably, multiple times. 

You probably reply, "Thanks, you too", but is that the last time you think about being safe until you return to the office following the weekend? I would suspect for many of us our thoughts about being safe are subconscious or only prompted by a visual event.
How many of us slow down when we see a car accident, maybe tug on the seatbelt to make sure it is secure? How many of us continue the cookout even with sound of thunder, only to hurry inside at the first lightning strike? How many of us are scared by something only to think later, "Boy, that was stupid on my part, should have seen that coming." 

Probably all of us! 

For this year's 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign we have tried to emphasize applying Operational Risk Management, or as it is commonly known ORM, to our personal lives. Taking those same practices that we apply in our day to day mission activities and using them to be safer all the time. 

Being safer in our personal lives is really about controlling risk and that is ORM. The reality is that everything we do in life has some level of risk. Through a systematic ORM review we can identify the hazards in what we are about to do, identify the probability, exposure and severity associated with those hazards (risk), and then take steps to reduce or eliminate those risks. Bottom line, we become safer by taking time before we do something to analyze the benefits gained compared to the risks assumed. 

So, as we plan our weekend activities, how can we deal with risks we may identify through ORM? First we can reject the risk. Some examples of risks I would reject are: "I am not going to drive after drinking alcohol, I am not going to drive without a seat belt on, I am not going to ride my motorcycle/ATV without a helmet, and I am not going boating without putting approved flotation devices on myself and my children." 

Next we could avoid the risk. An example of this is picking a different route of travel when the planned route is known for high accident rates or poor road conditions. Another option is to delay a risk. This occurs when we decide to get a good night's sleep on Friday and start our 10-hour drive fresh on Saturday morning. Finally we can compensate for the risk. Such as buying four new tires before a long trip or getting our car inspected to verify all belts, hoses, or brake pads are fully operational. 

There will always be hazards out there. There will even be risk in some of the fun things we do. Our goal should be to identify the hazards and then through ORM, to reduce or eliminate the risks. 

Anyway, I thank you for everything you do each day to assure mission success for Team Andrews. 

Have a good weekend, you deserve it! Oh, and "Be Safe."