The Two ‘Cs’ of Safety (commentary)

  • Published
  • By Scott Eck
  • 78th Air Base Wing director of safety

One of the things that I enjoy doing as the 78th Air Base Wing director of safety is to speak to supervisors at the beginning of each Supervisor Safety Training class. I like to get their opinions on why they are attending the class – other than they were told to be there – and why it is important for them to know their roles and responsibilities as it pertains to the safety program.

The work center supervisor is the focal point of their work center safety program. I say this because they control the processes, people and funding within their work centers and are the “go to” person when the commander or civilian leader has questions or concerns about safety. 

In my opinion there are two important skills that supervisors must master, and I call them the two “Cs” of safety.

So just what are the two “Cs” of safety? 

Well, the first is compliance. Why do supervisors need to be well-versed in compliance? They need to ensure their personnel are completing the mission in the safest manner possible. As the work center focal point, there are many things that the supervisor is responsible for and should know as it pertains to the safety of their personnel. There are a multitude of safety requirements that supervisors need to be familiar with to include Air Force instructions and standards; Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and National Fire Protection Association, just to name a few. 

Which brings me to the second “C” of safety: communication. Supervisors ensure their personnel are in compliance through communication. If you see someone not doing a work task in compliance with the written standards, you need to step in, correct the behavior, and ensure they understand what they were doing was not correct and they know the correct way to proceed. Have an open and frank conversation with them and encourage them to do the task safely. 

Likewise, when someone is doing something correctly, let them know that and how much you appreciate them for setting the example. While we are on the subject of communication, I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to your personnel in matters of safety. If they come to you with a safety concern, listen to what they have to say and take prompt action to address the issue. Build a bond with your team and make sure they know that you take safety seriously. Remember, as a supervisor you cannot be everywhere all of the time, so your personnel become your eyes and ears in matters of safety, and you need them to keep you abreast of safety issues within the work center.   

So, there you have it – the two “Cs” of safety: compliance and communication.

Now that you are armed with this information, you can ensure your workplace is safe for all of your personnel. Remember – your team and the mission are counting on you.