Safety reps safeguard mission, team

  • Published
  • By Jason Minto
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. At Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, Ed Conway leads the way to ensure the safety of all who work here, as the unit safety representative.

This duty is time consuming as there are many aspects to the safety program to include monitoring and training for hazard communication, exposure control bloodborne pathogens, formaldehyde and related air samplings, respiratory protection and initial and annual safety training for all deployed and permanent party employees. 

In Conway’s primary role here, he is the mortuary affairs program inspector. 

“I serve as the pertinent oversight authority and functional area manager for the inspection of all Department of the Air Force mortuary affairs programs.  I also serve as an augmentee to major command inspector generals in the required inspections of installations during unit effectiveness inspection capstone events,” said Conway.  “This is accomplished primarily virtually using the Medium Intensity Continuous Training self-inspection tools and the Defense Casualty Information Processing System for mortuary case management and compliance.”

Conway accompanies inspector general teams on some of the larger inspections to conduct interviews and review local mortuary programs. 

“This also allows for some mentoring, training and encouragement to our installation mortuary teams,” he said.

As the AFMAO lead for safety, he is charged with ensuring compliance with safety measures, similar to his role in inspections.

Conway’s initial acquaintance with safety and the importance of it, was during shop classes in high school where he worked in the auto, wood, small gas engine and print shop with a variety of machines and tools that required safety training and protective equipment. 

This safety continued and was reiterated while he served as a C-141A/B crew chief in the Air Force, a position with many hazards and conditions to safely navigate. 

“Examples are the noise and danger zones of running jet engines, the auxiliary power unit, vehicle and ground equipment operations near aircraft, fueling, filling of liquid oxygen, four season outdoor operations to include deicing vehicle (wind, sleet, snow) and walking on aircraft including the horizontal stabilizer for inspections and maintenance,” said Conway. 

The importance of safety, training and practice continued in the jet engine factory, another environment that required an alertness to surroundings and associated hazards like foreign object damage, tool accountability and hoisting, lifting and moving jet engines. He also worked in a test cell while running jet engines and checking for oil leaks, moving heavy parts and operating machinery.

“There were annual OSHA mandated training sessions to keep the importance of safety before us,” said Conway. 

Conway applies his years of experience in the safety arena from previous jobs to his role here in ensuring safety is at the forefront of all practices, whether it is chemical exposure or ensuring the fire extinguishers are inspected.

Dillon Lackus, AFMAO mortuary clerk, is the alternate safety representative and briefs at commander’s calls as a way to remind the mortuary team to focus on safety as a culture.

“The success of the AFMAO mission relies on each of us doing our part,” said Lackus. “Making sure we keep ourselves and each other safe, both on and off duty, will ensure that we stand ready to fulfill AFMAO’s sacred mission today, tomorrow and in the future.”

Together, their goal for the AFMAO safety program is to ensure AFMAO is compliant with all applicable regulations and to provide the safest environment possible for all members to operate.