Does Zero have value?

Occupational Safety patch (U.S. Air Force Graphic)

Occupational Safety patch (U.S. Air Force Graphic)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- What could someone who has wrestled with risk management the better part of his adult life say about the value of zero? I'd say zero has enormous value and for that very reason, the Air Force is on a quest for zero - zero workplace hazards, zero injuries and zero fatalities.

Are zero safety mishaps achievable in the realm of safety? I won't debate if they are or are not, but this must be our goal both here and throughout our Air Force. Anything less will lend credence to a system where injuries or even a single death are somehow acceptable. 

Quest for Zero or Q4Z is a paradigm shift in Air Force safety information and awareness campaign strategies. The program is based on the principle that a stronger, more powerful message concerning on-duty safety will carry outside the installation. The intent of Q4Z is for Airmen to recognize and safely manage the hazards they face every day at work and at home. 

Our "Q4Z" efforts target the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Fatal Four, the four most-common causes of workplace injuries: electrical hazards, falling hazards, being struck by and caught between. The Fatal Four are complemented with an additional safety topic every three months: distracted and impaired driving, personal protective equipment, back safety and fatigue. 

Are there tasks exposing you, your Airmen or cadets to electrical or fall hazards? Do you conduct operations that raise the risk of being stuck by something, such as a falling tool or vehicle traffic, or could you be caught between equipment and machinery? How will you protect yourself and your coworkers? 

Finally, let's discuss distracted driving. The link below will take you to a powerful video many of you may have seen before. Watch the four-minute video with your Airmen and consider watching it with your family and friends. Discuss the video with your Airmen using risk management principles to identify the hazards and the risk, develop countermeasures and act. Reflect on your driving habits and take a vow to change bad habits that may have crept into your driving practices.

Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of motor vehicle crashes. By some estimates, it has surpassed impaired driving as a leading cause of fatal motor vehicle crashes.  It is also 100 percent preventable. The next time you're tempted to look at that incoming text, or type a short reply, decide that it can wait. Behind the wheel you have one task and one focus: driving.  It's all part of our collective Quest for Zero.