AF Occupational Safety builds bridges with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
By Keith Wright, Air Force Safety Center Public Affairs
/ Published April 06, 2018
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
The Air Force Safety Center Occupational Safety Division hosted the Occupational Safety Corporate Committee meeting March 6-8 in Washington, D.C.
The focal point of this meeting was to build a better organizational understanding between Air Force Occupational Safety and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
During the OSCC, presentations from AFSEC, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and OSHA highlighted topics including organizational structures, use of federal laws and regulations, participation in national safety campaigns, and professionalization of the safety career field.
“This was a rare opportunity to open a normally AF-centric meeting to outside agencies,” said Maj. Gen. John T. Rauch Jr., Air Force chief of safety and commander of the Air Force Safety Center. “Occupational safety is a key component of the Air Force safety structure and information sharing amongst safety partners is essential to the success of our safety programs.”
The inclusion of OSHA provided the means for Air Force safety officials to showcase their mishap prevention efforts, and obtain a greater insight into the organization that sets and enforces the safety standards found in federal law.
“This was a unique effort to build bridges between the Air Force and OSHA which focused on the safety of our Airmen,” said Bill Parsons, Air Force chief of occupational safety. “By bringing together key stakeholders in the safety community we can highlight issues that impact not only the safety of the military and civilian work force, but the development of Air Force safety professionals.”
Parsons also discussed how important it was to bring these groups together as the Air Force starts to scale down internal instructions and require Airmen to reference OSHA federal laws and regulations.
These laws established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 ensure safe and healthy conditions exist in both the private sector and federal workplace.
Richard Mendelson, acting deputy assistant secretary for OSHA, provided the organizational overview and led discussions between OSHA and the Air Force for the duration of the meeting.
Managers from OSHA’s headquarters provided attendees with information about agency programs, what compliance safety and health officers look for during inspections, and how the Agency provides training opportunities and materials for widespread use.
Loren Sweatt, deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, was in attendance during a question and answer session where attendees of the Air Force and other DoD agencies were afforded the opportunity to discuss areas of potential cooperation and collaboration.
“We appreciate everything the Air Force is doing to increase the use of OSHA standards, and participate in OSHA safety campaigns,” said Sweatt. “As we move forward with the interactions between our agencies, we can make this an exceptional experience and produce some very positive outcomes for U.S. Air Force personnel and civilian workers.”
Sweatt echoed the importance of the portability of licensing and citing an opportunity for military to carry over their skillset into the civilian sector through OSHA’s Veteran's Employment and Training Service program.
Training and education was a hot topic for this year’s OSCC as many attendees raised questions about the ongoing effort to professionalize the safety career field for both military and civilian personnel.
In the end, Parsons thanked attendees for their continued engagement in workplace safety, and challenged safety specialists AF-wide to further their skillsets through professional certification.