Despite changes, safety stays priority

  • Published
  • By Joshua J. Seybert
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

For the 911th Maintenance Squadron Metals Technology Shop, a temporary duty assignment to March Air Reserve Base, California, in March 2019 was more than just about learning how to work on the 911th Airlift Wing’s new C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. It was about safety as well.

The arrival of new aircraft means new equipment. With new equipment comes learning new safety procedures and precautions, which is a priority.

“The machines we work with can literally eat you alive if you’re not following proper safety procedures,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Howard, safety representative for the 911th MXS Metals Technology Shop. “We want to make sure our folks are aware of these procedures before we get the new machines back home.”

According to Richard Oram, occupational safety manager with the 911th AW Safety Office, there is a program called the lockout tagout program, which is a safety program where personnel shut down a piece of equipment, attach a pad-lock to it that only they can unlock to remove to restore power to the machine.

This is a program already in effect at the metals technology shop. However, it will change and update when the base gets its new equipment. This is the same equipment being used at March ARB for maintenance of their C-17 fleet. This made the TDY a valuable experience for not only learning the new equipment, but also giving them a chance to practice the changes to the lockout tagout program that come with it.

The lockout tagout program plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of Airmen working with the equipment.

If a piece of equipment stops working or starts functioning incorrectly, Airmen using the equipment can shut the it down and lock the machine at the power source ensuring no one else can use it until it is properly fixed and is safe to use again.

The lockout tagout program is also used when performing routine maintenance on machines, ensuring the equipment doesn’t start running while a member is trying to maintain it. This step could prevent serious harm to an Airman.

“The most important thing for the Airmen working in these areas is their safety, especially in the line of work they do,” said Oram. “Working with Tech. Sgt. Michael Howard on preparing the lockout tagout program for these new machines before we get them in Pittsburgh speeds up this process.”

No matter how many changes occur one thing always stays the same; safety is priority.