Health & Safety

March 22, 2012

Accident prevention, stop mishaps before they happen

The ultimate goal of NAWS China Lake’s safety program is the prevention of mishaps.  There are many ways we can prevent mishaps aboard this station.

One way to immediately take action when any observed workplace hazard is identified.  Recently, an employee was injured after falling approximately two feet into an opening on a raised floor due to a missing floor tile on the elevated computer flooring system.  Reportedly, other employees in the area were aware of the missing floor tile; however, did not take action to replace the tile or adequately identify the hazard with cones, caution tape, etc.  Sometimes even a very simple action which may prevent a mishap can be overlooked in our haste to get the job done.

The Navy Occupational Safety and Health Program Manual, OPNAVINST 5100.23G, Chapter 10, outlines the responsibility each one of us has to take action upon observing any unsafe or unhealthful working condition.  If an unsafe condition is observed, it is your responsibility to act.  This may involve placing a cone over a flooring trip hazard, moving a cord stretched across a walkway, notifying personnel in the building of  a hazard by posting signs, mopping up a spill (even if you did not cause the spill), disconnecting a frayed extension cord, moving or securing overhead items that can easily fall on personnel, etc.   If you cannot take action to correct the problem yourself, it is your responsibility to report it to your supervisor or facility manager for further action.  Of course, any safety concern can always be reported directly to the NAWS Safety Office at (760) 939-2315.

Identifying unsafe or unhealthful working conditions at the earliest possible time and making prompt corrections of these hazards at the lowest possible working level are essential to ensuring that we have a safe workplace.  You know your workplace better than anyone.  If you observe a condition that you feel is unsafe or unhealthful take action to correct it.  If you cannot take action to correct the condition, report it.

While unsafe conditions must be corrected, mishaps often are the result of unsafe acts.  When personnel are willing to take action or to speak to co-workers about unsafe acts, injuries can be prevented.  There is a poem known in the safety industry titled “I chose to look the other way.” That poem tells the story of an employee who failed to speak up when witnessing an unsafe act.  By choosing to “look the other way” he allowed the needless death of a co-worker to occur.  It is a very thought-provoking message.  A 12 minute video titled “I Chose to Look the Other Way” is available for check out at the NAWS Safety Office which could serve as a good start to an upcoming safety meeting in your workplace.  Correcting unsafe conditions and speaking out about unsafe acts can save lives and contribute to a positive safety culture.

Keep these things in mind:

  • By law, all employees have the right to report unsafe/unhealthful working conditions in their workplace.
  • Identification and reporting of potentially unsafe or unhealthful conditions is the responsibility of all personnel, regardless of job title, duty, rank or grade.
  • Most unsafe/unhealthful conditions can be eliminated or abated if all personnel do their part in actively identifying and reporting such conditions.
  • Personnel are encouraged to report unsafe or unhealthful conditions or acts orally to their supervisor who shall promptly investigate the situation and take appropriate action.
  • Any employee may submit a written or oral report of an unsafe or unhealthful working condition directly to the NAWS Safety Office using their name or, if they prefer, anonymously.
  • Personnel have the right to decline a task if they have a reasonable belief that there is an imminent risk of serious injury or death and there is insufficient time for normal hazard reporting and abatement actions.   This is simply placing your “no vote” to stop or delay work that you feel poses a significant health or safety hazard that must be addressed before work continues.

Reports of unsafe/unhealthful working condition are accepted by the NAWS Safety Office by calling (760) 939-2315 or through ESAMS, the Enterprise Safety Application Management System on-line system at

Increasing awareness, identification, correction and reporting of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions and acts in the work environment is the responsibility of all employees.  Since many of these conditions can be eliminated as soon as they are identified, an open channel of communication for reporting is important.  Correcting unsafe or unhealthful working conditions or acts is one way to reduce mishaps.  We can never relax our efforts to reduce hazards, unsafe behaviors, and unsafe/unhealthful working conditions that may contribute to mishaps.  Before beginning any task, think Operational Risk Management and ask yourself , “What can go wrong?”, “What can I do about it?” and “Who do I need to tell?” Your actions today may prevent a mishap tomorrow.


Calendar Year 2012 OSHA Recordable Mishaps Jan – Feb: 12

1) N9: Traffic collision resulting in swelling/contusions to hip and shoulder.

2) 473100D:  Foreign object in eye when using forklift to drop celotex in dumpster causing debris in air.

3) N9:  Strained hand while lifting and moving empty wooden pallet during housekeeping in warehouse.

4) 783300D: Tripped over entry door floor mat/rug but did not fall.  Twisted knee.

5) N3AT: Struck head/neck/back on ground during police field training exercise.

6) 4L3000D: Caught finger between two security safe file drawers ““ laceration/abrasion.

7) 477200D: Strained back when lifting equipment out of the bed of a pick-up truck.

8) 471200D: Fell into opening in floor due to missing tile on raised electronics floor ““ back and arm strain.

9) 52121MD:  Slipped/fell on loose dirt walking desert ridgeline area escorting customers ““ back contusion.

10) 41210AD:  Fell on or near sidewalk while walking to vehicle being unloaded after test ““ knee /wrist strain.

11) N9:  Slip and fall while running on grass during sporting activity while providing child care ““ knee strain.

12) 525100D:  Laceration when finger was caught under 4-drawer file safe being moved in bed of pickup truck.

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