Interview by Stephen Baack, USAG Ansbach Public Affairs
ANSBACH, Germany (May 24, 2016) – Meet the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach’s new safety director, Don Busbice, who arrived here in March.
Busbice is a native of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and comes to Ansbach from Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where he served as the installation safety director.
Busbice, like his predecessor E.J. Singleton, learned safety when he was in the Air Force. Because Airmen have their own dedicated safety career field, and Soldiers do not, a significant number of civilians in the Army’s Safety and Occupational Health career program have at one time worn Air Force blue.
“Once I retired from the Air Force, the Army grabbed me up like that,” said Busbice. “I was fully trained. I could come in there and hit the ground running.”
Now, Busbice is leading his safety team in preparing for a June 3 motorcycle safety rally and the Army’s 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day and which addresses safety in the realms of driving, motorcycle-riding, grilling, swimming, heat and sun-protection, and sports. As part of their ongoing safety mission, he and his team conduct inspections, educate community members, and advise the commander on how the garrison can best use adhere to the Army Safety Program.
What brought you to Ansbach?
Being in Europe, it’s a family atmosphere. When you’re in the states, everybody leaves the gate and goes 900 different directions. In Europe, it’s an American family overseas, and I like that mentality. And it’s a challenge because of what’s going on here at Ansbach with, at first it seemed like a drawdown, and then a decision to pick up Ansbach and do greater things. I want to be a part of that.
Aside from your Air Force experience and training, what brought you into this field?
I like safety, and my kids would always call me Mr. Safety when they were growing up because I always said, “You can’t do that because it’s unsafe; you’ve got to do that.” It’s always something I wanted to get into and I wanted to represent. I like representing safety. I like the people. I love the job.
As the head of Installation Safety Office, how do you fit into the garrison?
I am an adviser, only, to the garrison commander on matters concerning the Army Safety Program. We look at anything that could possibly cause an Army accident, lost duty time for Soldiers or civilians, Family members and contractors. There are 26 pieces to the program, and of those 26 pieces, 17 apply here – which include annual inspections, ammunition, industrial base workers, office workers, Soldiers – it runs the gamut.
For garrison employees, what is something they should know about safety that they may not know?
That most garrison employees are doing the right thing. It’s when people get complacent. People get too familiar with the processes and the procedures to do their jobs, and they take shortcuts – and/or, they’re just not informed.
The safety career field evolves. Things change and things are updated, to include Army regulations, SOPs. I’m here to walk in there and say, “This changed six months ago or a year ago. These are the new requirements. I’m not there just to write somebody up, smile and leave. We teach, we train, we inform, and we sell safety.
During your garrison safety walk-throughs, what were the most common things you encountered – good or bad?
The common things that we see are electrical hazards; slips, trips and falls; and housekeeping is not up to a standard where we maintain egress – so, fire hazards. Those are the top three. By [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standards, they’re also the top three. The number one cause of accidents is going to be a slip, trip or fall.
Does the garrison maintain a safety record?
Absolutely. We have a record of our past annual inspections. We also keep a record of any accidents we’ve had for seven years. We can pull from that data, and what we can learn from that data is where is the next accident going to happen, who is it going to happen to. So, we basically use the data as a predictor. Typically, in this type of garrison, it’s likely to be a civilian employee who works for the Child Development Center, he or she could be next – because they could hurt their back picking up a child. Therefore, we direct our attention toward this forecasted event, provide safety training to CDC employees. The next scheduled course is May 27.
How can community members use risk mitigation or composite risk management as part of their everyday lives?
It’s no longer “composite” risk management. Now, the Army calls it risk management. My philosophy on that is, every day, you set your risk posture for what you do. There’s all kinds of factors that you can factor into that: base knowledge, gung-ho-ness, testosterone, adrenaline. We have two things: the Risk Management Worksheet for Soldiers, and a JHA, or Job Hazard Analysis, for civilians. The Job Hazard Analysis lists all the risks and the hazards, and the way to mitigate them out. As long as you stay within that, theoretically, you should be all right.
Now, when you take the shortcut, or the boss comes in and says, “I need this done now,” or you put pressure on yourself – it’s Friday afternoon and you want to get something done, then you tend to skip those steps that were established to mitigate out the risk. That’s when accidents happen.
How can community members use this process informally in their everyday lives?
We all do it. We just don’t know what to call it. It’s true. Do you put your seat belt on when you get in your car?
Do you signal when you turn?
You walk into your office space and you see something laying across the exit like an extension cord – the tendency is to move it, not to step by it. Any time you step by a hazard, you just approved that for everybody else. So, risk mitigation, it’s maintaining your risk posture.
The risk part of hazard mitigation: I thoroughly believe it’s there because if you ask most people how they mitigate the risk, they can tell you something they’ve done: “I wear my personal protective equipment and my steel-toed shoes in case I drop something,” or, “I wear my glasses so I don’t get something in my eye.” Do all people do it? No. But I think for the most part, people adhere to that.
From your position, what do you hope to impart to people, and what do you hope to bring to the table?
I want them to know that my office and I, and the people who work in safety, are approachable, accessible, and we want your business. I want you to call on our phone or hit us up in public when you see us and say, “Hey. I have a concern about a safety issue,” because I want my team to mitigate out the risk for garrison employees, Soldiers, Family members and contractors, because I want you to work. But I also want to be, as a safety officer, very approachable. I’m not going to come into your office, write you up and laugh and walk away. I’m going to train and help you figure out how to mitigate out the hazards.
Do you have anything to add?
I’m glad to be here. I’ve worked for the deputy garrison commander [James A. Walls] before. I love working for him because he keeps me very balanced. He is an excellent feedback source. From Colonel [Christopher] Benson, the first thing he told me was, “I want to set a safety culture here. You’re going to do it for me.” I love that, because I’ve got command support, and in turn, I will support them.
He gave me a couple of things he wants me to do – one was a motorcycle rally and the other was facility inspections, and I’ve got guys on that right now. My staff is outstanding.
I’m glad to be here. I’m proud to serve. I love the job. It’s not because of me; it’s because of all the people I interact with.