After the Air Force became a separate department, the Air Force Chief of Staff designated the Office of the Inspector General to oversee all inspection and safety functions. These functions were consolidated in an inspector general group at Norton Air Force Base, California, in the 1950s.
On December 31, 1971, the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center was activated, replacing the 1002nd Inspector General Group. The center was then divided into the Air Force Inspection Agency and the Air Force Safety Agency in August 1991. Reorganization of the air staff in 1992 created the Air Force Chief of Safety position, reporting directly to the Air Force Chief of Staff. The Chief of Safety became dual-hatted as the commander of the Air Force Safety Agency. In July 1993, the agency moved to Kirtland AFB due to the closure of Norton AFB.
Following The Blue Ribbon Panel on Aviation Safety in 1995, the Air Force Safety Center was activated on January 1, 1996, when the Air Force Chief of Safety and support staff moved from Washington, D.C., to consolidate all safety functions at Kirtland AFB. The Chief of Safety position was changed from a brigadier general to a major general.
The Deputy Chief of Safety/Executive Director position was created in October 2003 to oversee the daily functions of the center. The Chief of Safety and support staff moved back to the Pentagon in April 2004.
In February 2018, the Deputy Chief of Safety/Executive Director position was split into two positions. The Vice Commander of AFSEC would retain responsibility for overseeing daily functions at the center and the Deputy Chief of Safety would reside with the Chief of Safety in Washington, D.C.
With the creation of the U.S. Space Force on December 20, 2019, the Air Force Safety Center ensured safety functions continued by supporting safety across two services for the Department of the Air Force. This led to the transfer of the Space Safety Division to the Space Force in November 2020, making the safety center a blended organization.