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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany


Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Employees safety 'habits' may deter injuries

By Lance Cpl. Joshua Bozeman | | March 15, 2001

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The safety of a work area depends on the assertiveness and habits of the workers in that area, said the MCLB Albany safety manager. 

"Ninety-five percent of the injuries that occur on the job are preventable," said William R. Young, a south-eastern Idaho native.

Young attributed most job-related injuries to complacency.
According to Young, sometimes seemingly easy ventures can strain an individual more then they realize, and sometimes people just do stupid things.

Moving furniture or other materials improperly, falling out of chairs and spilling boiling coffee on themselves are a few examples of mishaps that occurred from not paying attention, said Young.

Sometimes people pick things up before they realize a sharp object is attached to the item, and they cut themselves, he added.

Young said mishaps are categorized into four classes: A, B, C and D. Class A, the most severe, results in death and/or more than a million dollars in property damage. Class D represents minor injuries requiring only basic first aid and/or less than $20,000 of property damage.

The vast majority of injuries aboard the base are class D, with several hundred cases happening each year, said Young.

However, several class C accidents and a few class B mishaps have also occurred. No class A incident has occurred in several years.

According to Young, a major university once did a study that found that if an object is out of place for 24 hours, people consider it a permanent part of their surroundings.

"For example, if I were to put a trash can out in the middle of the floor, then within 24 hours people wouldn't even see it there.

"They would walk around it automatically," said Young. This can cause problems, because most accidents occur when people make assumptions and don't pay attention to details.

"A lot of safety issues have to do with the physiology of the human being," said Young. "When you look around, there is so much information your eye picks up that your brain has to filter out 90 percent of it so it can process it," he added.

Young explained that if something new comes into an individual's field of vision, he sees it, but if its something his eyes have become accustomed to, people generally don't notice it.

"Your eyes pick up the important things: something moving, something unusual or something out of the ordinary," said Young.

Young said most injuries on the job are either back injuries, cuts or improper use of protective equipment. The best way to avoid these injuries is to stay alert. 

"Marines do some of the craziest and most dangerous things you can think of, and they do it successfully," said Young. "Because you plan for it, you anticipate problems and you take steps to minimize your hazards.

"You accept the fact that yes, there are risks to what you are doing, but you try to minimize them [the risks] to an acceptable degree.

"If that would be carried over into everyday life, I think a lot of people wouldn't get hurt," Young continued.

"That's basically what the safety business is. Look at what you are doing, look at the risks and deal with them," said Young.

"People have to realize: you are responsible for your own safety. You are the only person who is with yourself all the time," said Young.

"Always be aware of what you are doing, and think before you act," he concluded.

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