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Safety course targets ground mishaps

Jun. 2, 2013 - 10:13AM   |  
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Ground commanders may soon have to attend a new safety course modeled after training required for aviators.

The course is set for a test run this summer at the Sergeants Major Symposium, an annual gathering of the Corps’ senior enlisted leaders, said Michael S. Miller, head of the Marine Corps Safety Division’s Safety & Occupational Health Branch.

It will focus on lessons from the Aviation Safety Commanders Course that are applicable to the combat arms, combat support and combat service support communities, covering topics ranging from operational risks introduced by fatigue to workplace safety guidance on slips and falls.

Marine officers would be required to take the course right before they assume their first ground command.

Sergeants major attending the symposium will provide feedback concerning course concepts, materials and instruction. While it is ultimately designed for commanders, “who better than the COs’ senior enlisted advisers to assess and help build an effective and high-quality Safety & Force Preservation Course for Commanders,” Miller said.

“If you make an error in an aircraft, people die and you lose millions of dollars in a single incident,” Miller said. “The stakes are not quite as high on the ground, but ground commanders are asking why they don’t have a program like aviation.”

Since fiscal 2003, Class-A ground mishaps — those that cause loss of life or more than $2 million in damage to equipment — have declined overall from 38 to 15 in 2012. Marine officers receive safety training specific to their military occupational specialty at MOS schools and they are inherently safety-minded as they conduct maneuver warfare, Miller said. But, many commanders have had no general safety training beyond stand-down briefs unless they have done collateral duty as a safety officer. A new course would help all commanders understand the broader foundations of safety and further reduce accidents, Miller hopes.

The ground commanders’ curriculum has not been finalized. If it’s received positively at the symposium, a two-day course could be rolled out by mobile training teams for commanders at installations on the East Coast, West Coast and in the Pacific later this year, Miller said. The aviation safety course, by comparison, lasts six days and is held annually at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.

The course was recommended during the most recent Executive Force Preservation Board. Led by Assistant Commandant Gen. John “Jay” Paxton, it provides an opportunity for general officers from major commands like Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Training and Education, and Marine Corps Forces Central Command, to discuss ways to improve safety and well-being across the fleet.

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