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‘Seeing’ safety important in deployed maintenance
Airman 1st Class Christopher Kelley, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron currently deployed to southwest Europe, demonstrates proper use of an eye-wash station March 6, 2013. Airmen from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, deployed to southwest Europe in January 2013 to support French operations in Mali. There were no eye-wash stations at the deployed location until Staff Sgt. Najim Alhamdan, 100th Maintenance Group, identified the need for the equipment and had it shipped from home station on a KC-135 Stratotanker tail swap. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alan Wilkinson)
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'Seeing' safety important in deployed maintenance

Posted 3/15/2013   Updated 3/15/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. Alan Wilkinson
100th Logistics Readiness Squadron


3/15/2013 - SOUTHWEST EUROPE  -- Melting skin, permanent blindness and facial scarring can be real hazards that Air Force maintainers face daily.

Hazards from hydraulic fluid, engine oil and jet fuel are just a few of the dangers Airmen with the 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron have to deal with at home, as well as at deployed locations.

Airmen from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, deployed to southwest Europe Jan. 26, 2013, to support French operations in Mali. It didn't take long for one maintainer, Staff Sgt. Najim Alhamdan, to realize after an initial inspection of the sections that emergency eye-wash stations weren't in place.

"We need to get these guys in compliance so we can provide a safe working environment for the Airmen of the 351st EARS," said Alhamdan. "A quick response is the only real answer if exposed to the types of hazards we face on a day-to-day basis."

As a quality assurance inspector for the 100th Maintenance Group at home station, Alhamdan's responsibility to ensure safety and compliance is also his duty while deployed.

"I was doing the initial inspection, and I realized there were no eye-wash stations," said Alhamdan, a Seattle native. "I made a call to the 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron NCOIC of support. He was able to get the eye-wash stations on the next tail swap coming here."

In the meantime, Alhamdan worked with the local supply office to obtain a solution in the form of squeeze bottles that can be used one time in the event of an emergency.

Eye-wash station training is something all supervisors are required to teach their Airmen as part of on-the-job training.

"It's as simple as lifting the cover, putting your face directly into the saline water mixture with your eyes open, waiting for the hazard to be washed away, and then seeking immediate medical attention," said Alhamdan.

Maintainers are working long hours at the deployed location, and a preventable safety incident could negatively impact the entire mission.

"Around here safety is paramount," said Master Sgt. William Jancouskas, 100th AMXS production superintendent and Castle Rock, Colo., native. "Without proper safety equipment we are adding unnecessary risks to the working environment."

Safety is a priority for 351st EARS Airmen, said Jancouskas. Any Airman who recognizes a potential safety improvement needs to get involved without delay.



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