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Quest for Zero makes headway

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- March 22nd was a big day for Air Force Occupational Safety. It marked exactly one year since the Air Force experienced an on-duty ground fatality.

This milestone in preventing work-related ground fatalities is a huge step forward in the Air Force’s overarching safety campaign, “Quest for Zero” and represents only the second time in history that it has occurred.

“More than an entire year without a single on-duty ground fatality is a significant achievement in our campaign. This could not have been accomplished without the diligence and commitment of our safety professionals, safety representatives, commanders, supervisors, and Airmen,” said Maj. Gen. John T. Rausch Jr., Air Force chief of safety and commander of the Air Force Safety Center.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the on-duty hazards Airmen face every day, with the goal of eliminating preventable mishaps.

This is accomplished with consistently updated “Q4Z” safety messaging being pushed out to Airmen year-round through social media, the American Forces Network, Occupational Safety SharePoint, and other Air Force internet-based capabilities. Some of the primary messaging topics include fall prevention, the Air Force Bump Cap Initiative, hazardous energy control, vehicle safety, risk management, and seasonal safety.

Since introducing the “Quest for Zero” preventable mishaps campaign in 2014, the Air Force has experienced a 30% reduction in on-the-job injuries.

“The Air Force Occupational Safety program is among the best in the world,” said Bill Parsons, chief of Air Force occupational safety. “My sincerest thanks to all Airmen for your hard work toward a safer Air Force every day.”

Parsons added, “As we carry on our work to strengthen our relationships with OSHA and other professional safety organizations, we also reinforce and strengthen the Air Force commitment to worker safety. Let’s keep pushing for zero preventable mishaps!”

US Department of Labor statistics show “in 2016 there were a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States. This was the third consecutive increase in annual workplace fatalities and the first time more than 5,000 fatalities have been recorded by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries since 2008.”

While private sector workforce fatalities continue to rise, the efforts of more than 634,000 Airmen yielded zero on-duty occupational fatalities over the last 14 months.

Commanders’ involvement, supervisors’ commitment to excellence and Airmen’s vigilance to the safety of those around them contributed to this success.