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Air Force puts spotlight on fall protection

Senior Airman Eric, Cable Maintenance journeyman, , climbs a communication tower as part of a demonstration in support of the Air Force fall protection focus initiative at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia May 11, 2015. According to the Air Force Safety Center website, the Air Force experiences hundreds of fall mishaps annually that result in thousands of lost man-hours as well as injuries and deaths. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik)

Senior Airman Eric, Cable Maintenance journeyman, , climbs a communication tower as part of a demonstration in support of the Air Force fall protection focus initiative at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia May 11, 2015. According to the Air Force Safety Center website, the Air Force experiences hundreds of fall mishaps annually that result in thousands of lost man-hours as well as injuries and deaths. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik)

Base personnel observe a climbing demonstration in support of the Air Force fall protection focus initiative at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia May 11, 2015. According to the Air Force Safety Center website, The Fall Protection Focus alerts the entire Air Force family - active duty, civilian, Guard, Reserve and family members - of what can be done to prevent fall-related injuries and deaths. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik)

Base personnel observe a climbing demonstration in support of the Air Force fall protection focus initiative at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia May 11, 2015. According to the Air Force Safety Center website, The Fall Protection Focus alerts the entire Air Force family - active duty, civilian, Guard, Reserve and family members - of what can be done to prevent fall-related injuries and deaths. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Air Force Ground Safety sponsored Fall Protection Focus weeks from May 4-15 to raise awareness of fall hazards as well as how to mitigate fall-related accidents.

Safety officials here organized a fall protection demonstration to educate base personnel on proper preclimb procedures.

“This demonstration shows (everyone) how to use the equipment, as well as the safety and rescue procedures involved in a situation like this,” said Tech. Sgt. Russell, the radio frequency systems NCO in charge.

The annual fall protection initiative is partnered with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's campaign, "National Safety Stand-Down."

Air Force safety statistics indicated falls were responsible for 7,671 ground mishaps with injuries, including three fatalities, between fiscal years 2010 and 2014. These incidents resulted in 44,000 lost work days at a cost of more than $30 million.

“With the high operations tempo (here) something that’s seemingly basic, like climbing a tower, could easily cause complacency and you tend to forget little things,” Russell said. “It’s really important to pay attention to detail especially in this fast pace environment.”

Bill Parsons, the Air Force chief of ground safety, noted that falls shouldn’t just be thought of as situations involving heights.

“Fall protection or prevention is not only for activities related to heights that are encountered every day on the job, but also includes, for example, falls that can happen because of wet floors or obstacles on a walkway,” Parsons said.

The two weeks dedicated to fall protection is an opportunity to create awareness of fall hazards and according to the Air Force Safety Center, to further the cause, installations and major commands can execute this focus awareness whenever it is deemed appropriate.

“We want everyone to remember that preventable falls are inexcusable and that we must continue to do all we can to protect ourselves and each other,” Parsons said.

(Editor’s note: Due to safety and security reasons, last names and unit designators were removed.)

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