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Air Force officials announce banner year in ground safety

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- The Air Force mission is inherently risky and Airmen mitigate those risks every day, but last fiscal year their sound risk management and decision making skills contributed to a great year in ground safety.

The Air Force finished fiscal year 2014 with three on-duty and 42 off-duty ground fatalities, marking the lowest fatality rate in 10 years. That’s a decline from fiscal 2013 with seven on-duty fatalities and 47 off-duty ground fatalities with the top two categories being Ground & Industrial and motor vehicle. The 10-year average is 5.9 fatalities on-duty and 50.6 for off-duty.

The leading cause of off-duty deaths among Airmen, motor vehicle accidents, declined 18 percent from 34 in fiscal 2013 to 28 in fiscal 2014. Included in those fiscal 2014 numbers were 15 four-wheeled vehicle and 13 motorcycle deaths. Over the last 10 years, the Air Force has lost an average of 39 Airmen each year to motor vehicle accidents.

“When every Airman stays focused and uses the risk management tools available, lives are saved as evidenced by the significant decrease in fatalities, the lowest in 10 years,” said Bill Parsons, the Air Force chief of ground safety. “But we must redouble our efforts: one life lost is one too many.”

In the on-duty arena, the past two years have been marked by extensive efforts by the Air Force Safety Center and major commands to reduce injuries due to falls and vehicle backing. To address fall protection hazards and inherent hazards in backing government and specialty vehicles, supervisors have given more emphasis on job safety training.

The Critical Days of Summer campaign focused on risk management in all activities and concluded with a reduction in fatalities from 20 in 2013 to 17 in 2014.

“In the last few years, the Air Force has emphasized risk management principles for on- and off-duty activities,” said Maj. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, the Air Force chief of safety and the AFSEC commander. “Risk management and safe operations are part of our ethos, and when our Airmen apply them to every activity, both on duty and off duty, they mitigate hazards and prevent mishaps.

“Safety is foundational for establishing an Air Force culture with a strong risk management focus,” he added.

In an effort to reduce motorcycle fatalities in fiscal 2014, Air Force officials maintained a motorcycle safety training contract graduating more than 3,300 riders through 458 classes Air Force-wide, which provided Air Force riders the knowledge, skills and techniques to be safer riders.

The Air Force hosted Stay Alive From Education (S.A.F.E.) Street Smart, an audience-interactive mishap prevention program that was presented to more than 100,000 Airmen at 90 installations in the last three years.

Air Force Ground Safety attributed the reduction in on- and off-duty fatalities to commander involvement, risk management, job safety training, fall protection emphasis programs, motorcycle training, “Street Smart” and other seasonal campaigns.

For more information, visit the Air Force Safety Center at http://www.afsec.af.mil/

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