NEWS | Feb. 21, 2012

Protecting our assets

By Staff Sgt. Katie Gieratz Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

There is an office at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base just like many others, whose personnel perform day to day functions such as answering phones, responding to e-mails or helping customers. But this office also does a job most people aren't even aware of on a daily basis; the 628th Air Base Wing safety office helps keep you alive.

"The Safety Program is truly a team effort at JB Charleston. The 437th Airlift Wing and 628th Air Base Wing safety offices are co-located in the Wing Headquarters along with their respective chiefs of safety and their corresponding staff members," said Chris Anderson, 628th ABW ground and weapons safety chief.

"The 437th AW leads the flight safety component of the program while the 628th ABW administers the ground and explosive safety elements.

"The wings ensure a cross flow of safety information and both teams are committed to promoting the outstanding safety culture present at JB Charleston," said Anderson

After technical training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, most safety officials have the opportunity to attend advanced training to take their skills to the next level.

"As individuals, we are a jack-of-all-trades," said Staff Sgt. Meagan Bustillo, 628th ABW Safety office safety technician. "We have to know something about everything. We are responsible for complying with federal standards and Department of Defense standards as well as local laws. On any given day we can be tasked with a variety of jobs which could include confined space training exercises, inspecting child development centers, evaluating the motorcycle safety program or checking offices for power strips plugged into one another (daisy chains). We are everywhere and we have to keep our knowledge as current as possible to effectively do our job."

The 628th ABW Safety office is responsible for inspecting more than 1,000 facilities on JB Charleston annually. The inspections ensure all facilities and their operations are functioning in compliance with Air Force and federal standards for electrical, machine guarding, fall protection, training and hazardous material safety just to mention a few.

After inspections, each unit is given an overall grade; outstanding, excellent, satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If a unit needs further assistance, the 628th ABW Safety office works closely with the unit commander to make sure updated procedures are being implemented and standards are being followed.

"We ensure safeguards are in place enabling people to go home to their families at the end of each day safely while effectively accomplishing their mission at work," said Darnell Edmonds, 628th ABW Safety office safety and health official.

Besides routine inspections, the 628th ABW Safety office also conducts formal investigations which can occur anytime, day or night, on or off the installation. In 2011, Safety office personnel conducted more than 35 formal investigations involving service members. If a service member is hurt in a vehicle accident or injured while participating in recreational activities, safety is called to conduct an investigation.

"As an investigator, my conclusions of a mishap cannot be used for disciplinary actions, to include a line of duty determination," said Edmonds. "My job is to figure out what happened, why it happened and to provide recommendations and measures to prevent it from happening again."

"We are here to help," said Staff Sgt. Narto Simmons, 628th ABW safety technician. "Our number one goal is prevention."