Kunsan Safety: Leading through hazards

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Arends
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 8th Fighter Wing safety office helps commanders deter complacency and preserve personnel, equipment and resources while maintaining combat readiness and proficiency.

“We are not an enforcement agency,” said Master Sgt. Cas Caruso, 8th FW safety superintendent. “We’re here to advise and educate; to ensure Airmen go home at the end of the day in the same shape as when they arrived at work that morning.”

The safety office team consists of two officers and six enlisted members, all of whom are responsible for the overall proactive and reactive safety and risk management for the installation.

Maj. Houston Pye, 8th FW safety chief, reports directly to the wing commander and manages the mishap prevention program for the wing. Capt. Isaiah Alley, 8th FW flight safety officer, manages the flight safety program and inspects, assesses and monitors flight-related workplaces and operations.

The six enlisted members are split into what the team refers to as the three disciplines: flight safety, weapons safety and occupational safety.

Flight safety inspects the aircraft maintenance locations and flightline for hazards, foreign object debris and damage. This section also includes the Bird and Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program to ensure birds and other wildlife do not pose a danger to flying operations.  

Weapons safety’s primary function is to conduct site assessments for locations where munitions are built and stored. This is done by ensuring risk is continuously assessed and Airmen are in compliance with Air Force safety policies.  

Occupational safety inspects facilities for hazards, assesses unit-level safety programs and provides a variety of safety learning opportunities for other units through training, classes and briefings.

“We get to see every closet of every building on the base,” said Caruso. “We get to meet all kinds of people, network and educate. Sometimes we even have the opportunity to recruit people looking to cross train into a different career field.”

With over 2,800 personnel working and living in over 300 facilities, all three teams are proactive in preventing hazards by conducting daily inspections across the base. Safety’s goal each year is to inspecting 100 percent of the facilities to ensure compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and Air Force instructions. This includes constant review of the flightline and the hardened aircraft shelters.

“I’m on the runway constantly. I am actively looking for damage on the airfield or cracks in the cement,” said Master Sgt. Jeff Kutlesa, 8th FW safety office flight safety NCO.

Safety also conducts inspections if a service member is injured. The safety team assigned to the inspection is dependent on the mishap’s nature and location.

“If someone is working on a jet and hits their head, it’s going to go to flight safety,” said Tech Sgt. Amy Barnett, 8th FW safety office occupational safety manager. “But if they’re just walking, trip and fall or sprain their ankle, it goes to occupational safety.”

These inspections are comprised of interviews with the personnel involved, a report of what happened and filing a recommendation of what can be done to help prevent the mishap in the future.

“Our goal is to help find a recommendation for how something can be fixed or improved upon,” said Caruso. “The unit comes up with the best way to fix it and we simply help them get to the point where the original issue is corrected and is no longer a hazard in the workplace.” 

For the last several months, the majority of incidents the occupational safety team has investigated have been sports-related. They recommend that Airmen stretch before and after activities, know their physical limits and use the correct sports-related gear.

“If you’re playing basketball, don’t play it in running shoes or other footwear not made for basketball,” said Tech Sgt. Jalleshia Miller, 8th FW safety office occupational safety manager.

For every member of the Wolf Pack, the rule of ‘If you see something, say something’ comes into play when preventing mishaps. If someone sees a potential hazard, such as a hole developing in the gym floor or their office, the safety office asks that they be notified.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said Caruso. “If people are doing safety at the lowest level, my team can focus on getting to know your offices better during inspections and provide even more tailored approaches to safety for your mission.”