Summer safety afloat, ashore and at home

The following blog is written by Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander, Military Sealift Command. Safe operating procedures and a safety mind set are critical to our healthy and capable workforce. Shannon reminds us that our safety policy is, and should be, part of who we are and how we operate as a command, both at work and at play. We are in the Atlantic hurricane season, and July 4th marked one of the heaviest summer fun times of the year for most people in MSC. Whether afloat or at the beach on vacation, storm and summer safety go hand-in-hand.

An underway replenishment in the Philippine Sea.

An underway replenishment in the Philippine Sea.

Kevin Kohlmann in Engineering at headquarters is our MSC safety guy. Capt. Bill Wiggins is our civil service mariner advisor. Together, we are working on our MSC safety policy, something that every commander must publish within 90 days of taking command.

We didn’t want a “usual, run-of-the-mill safety policy,” so we put our heads together, sought advice from experts, and developed the basics that we all need to know and take to heart this summer and all year long.

Work safety – afloat and ashore

What we do is inherently dangerous. Heavy machinery, large ships, potentially uncertain seas and the unimaginable power of hurricanes leave no room for error for our shipmates afloat. Ashore, we face the dangers of commuting (especially in places like Washington, D.C.; Singapore, Guam, Naples, Norfolk and San Diego) and the little things we forget about, such as lifting heavy boxes, negotiating stairwells and using chairs as stepstools.

We must reduce the dangers we face every day by recognizing hazards and managing the risks associated with those hazards. More than common sense, risk management helps us anticipate trouble, identify potential hazards, evaluate possible ways to mitigate those hazards and establish a means of controlling hazardous situations.

With the advent of hurricane season, weather sorties and secure moorings move to the top of our safety lists afloat. Ashore, heavy weather driving hazards arise. We have established rules and procedures, good ones, in our Safety and Quality Management Systems. Whether afloat or ashore, our people have access to the knowledge they need to deal with most situations. All we need to do is apply that knowledge, and that requires a safety mind set. We all must know and follow our safety and operational procedures. We need to make sure our safety devices and protective equipment are up-to-date and available, and that we use them when exposed to hazardous work or dangerous operations.

Home safety

At home, with our kids involved in summer activities and family vacations taking place, we should remember those same risk management principles when it comes to beach and water activities, hiking, biking or just playing in the yard. A cast on a broken arm or leg can really put a damper on summer fun.

Driving long distance brings its own set of hazards. We can set ourselves up to succeed by getting plenty of rest prior to the drive and taking frequent driving breaks. Arriving an hour or two late is much better than not arriving at all.

Our MSC family needs all its members, and we need them happy and healthy, so please make room in your life for safety, every day.

Thanks for your service,

T.K. Shannon

Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Commander, Military Sealift Command


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