Safety is everyone’s responsibility

As Commanding General of IMCOM, my commander’s intent is to provide the facilities, programs and services required to support Army readiness, sustain the all-volunteer force and provide the infrastructure for current and future mission requirements.

Safety is key to accomplishing my intent. It involves the prevention of material loss, but the focus is really on saving lives. 

In September, I spoke at the Army Senior Safety Tactical Symposium. It was my opportunity to say “thank you” to almost 500 safety professionals for the work they do to keep Soldiers, civilians and families safe.

A recent example of their effort was a six-month Army-wide fire safety campaign in 2009. The campaign was launched to reverse the increasing number of military housing and facility fires, and succeeded in netting more than $20 million in cost avoidance in the second half of the year.

However, we can never become complacent as long as we are still losing lives to preventable accidents.

Everyone is a safety officer. Everyone has an obligation to look out for themselves and the Soldiers, civilians and families around them, acting on the requirements in place: the Army Safety Program, AR 385-10 and IMCOM’s Safety Program Regulation.

To improve safety efforts, there are six things I ask us all to consider.

First, we will not cut corners or funds to save money at the expense of our Safety Program. Rather, we should put money toward the right resources in order to improve it.

Second, when we allocate resources for safety programs, we need to make sure they reach Soldiers of all components; retirees, civilians and all their families. Only by reaching every member of our Army Family can we instill a culture that puts safety first.

Third, everyone must support the senior commanders, as they are responsible for the life of every Soldier, civilian and family member on their installation, and everyone must be actively involved in the Safety Program.

Fourth, leaders need to make sure the appropriate safety training is available to new motorcycle drivers. Motorcycle-driving simulators are necessary and should be made available at every IMCOM installation.

I have been a motorcycle driver my entire adult life and have never had a motorcycle accident. I firmly believe that it is not a matter of luck, but preparation. I drive my motorcycle only if I have the right frame of mind, the right protective equipment and a planned route. 

Fifth, the Installation Management Campaign Plan 2.0 is being launched this month. The plan’s Line of Effort on Safety calls for providing effective privately owned vehicle safety programs; heightening safety awareness; employing hazard control measures; requiring and promoting safe, healthy practices, and support for the senior commander.

The LOE charges commanders and other officials to lead the way in changing behavior to prevent accidents, and to empower military community members to speak up when they see someone ignoring safety rules.

Sixth, I challenge all of you to look at the IMCP’s Safety LOE and ask yourselves, “What are we missing?” We cannot be satisfied as long as we have a single accident.

If safety requirements are not adequate, we will improve them. If we are doing something ineffective out there, we will stop. But if no one tells me, we cannot correct the issue.

When you practice and teach others about safety, you are saving lives — and I cannot think of a higher calling.