Occupational Safety Publication Gets a Face-Lift

  • Published
  • By Robert P. Baker
  • Air Force Safety Center Occupational Safety Division
In the next few weeks, one of the top three referenced publications in the Air Force will be getting a new name and a whole new look. The Air Force Safety Center’s Occupational Safety Division has been hard at work re-writing Air Force Instruction 91-203, Air Force Consolidated Occupational Safety Instruction, to streamline the publication, remove duplication, and refer readers to the Code of Federal Regulations to the maximum extent possible.

To achieve the Secretary of the Air Force’s vision for consolidating and streamlining Air Force guidance, this foundational safety publication is changing from an AFI to an Air Force Manual by the same number. AFMANs carry the same weight as AFIs in that they are mandatory guidance that must be complied with. However, unlike AFIs, AFMANs are more detail oriented and procedural in nature.

The re-crafted publication replacing AFI 91-203 is AFMAN 91-203, Air Force Occupational Safety, Fire and Health Standards. This name change acknowledges that OSHA law (29CFR1910 and 29CFR1926) addresses three major aspects for a safe workplace: safety, fire protection/prevention, and occupational health. While AFMAN 91-203 is maintained by AF Safety, it is a collaborative publication authored by subject matter experts from AF Fire Protection, AF Bioenvironmental Engineering, and other agencies across the force. By referring readers back to the public law source of safety guidance, redundancy is reduced, conflicting guidance is eliminated, and the publication substantially reduced in length.

Because the overhaul of this publication is a significant change in what readers have been accustomed to over the years, the publication will be released in three phases. The first phase, coming out in the next few weeks, consolidates common task requirements applicable AF-wide into the first 11 chapters, while simultaneously referring readers to the appropriate section of OSHA public law. The second phase focuses on consolidating safety requirements associated with industrial operations and referring readers to the appropriate sections of OSHA public law. This second phase anticipated release is late FY19 to allow the AF community at large to get accustomed to the new style of writing and provide Airmen with the opportunity to provide feedback to AFSEC. The last phase, slated for release in FY20, will similarly address flightline and other associated industrial operations.

To assist Airmen as they adjust to these changes, AFSEC has added updates to the next release of Supervisor Safety Training. This updated version of SST will be made available to wings in the next couple of weeks. AFSEC also has an introductory video located on the Occupational Safety SharePoint site to show Airmen how to read the new AFMAN.

A convenient 2-page handout to aid readers with decoding OSHA references for both General Industry (29CFR1910) and Construction (29CFR1926) can be found at the Occupational Safety SharePoint site.

In support of the SecAF’s initiative, this first phase of the change of AFI 91-203, Air Force Consolidated Occupational Safety Instruction, into AFMAN 91-203, Air Force Occupational Safety, Fire and Health Standard, is nearly complete. This first cut eliminates over 300 pages of duplicative guidance, streamlines the publication and refers readers to source guidance…the CFR to the maximum extent possible.

Readers of this popular guidance document can expect to see it on AF E-pubs website in the coming weeks. In the meantime, readers can check out OSHA Public Law at https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910 for General Industry and https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1926 for Construction as well as the products on the AFSEC Occupational Safety SharePoint page.