Aviators identify safety issues at RMAF Base Butterworth

The National Defence Strategy (NDS) has been a top priority to ensure the contribution to protect our security is a focused, integrated and holistic approach, but it hasn’t been at the expense of safety at 19 Squadron at RMAF Base Butterworth.

CAPTIONMembers of 19 Squadron, RMAF Butterworth, develop a cultural plan and safety roadmap. Story by Bruce Chalmers. Photo by Corporal Sam Price.

19 Squadron developed a Cultural Plan and Safety Roadmap with nearly all objectives and initiatives being identified by 19 Squadron aviators, members of Combat Support Group.

Results of 19 Squadron’s safety roadmap are impressive, with all objectives being met in quarters one and two of this year.

Safe adviser Warrant Officer Barry Eichmann, of RMAF Butterworth, said a focus on the NDS was important, particularly being based in an overseas environment characterised by unique risks.

However, with safety the top priority, it has not diminished RAAF’s commitment to ensuring the highest safety standards are adhered to.

“Formerly an aircraft technician on the Orion AP-3C, I am very aware of the significant improvements in safety in the aviation world, but Work Health and Safety affects all working environments,” Warrant Officer Barry Eichmann.

“We’ve actively engaged our people in informal meetings and fortnightly command walk-arounds where our aviators identify areas and initiatives for how we can improve. These formed the foundation for our safety roadmap.

“It has been a truly successful bottom-up innovative and positive safety culture that has addressed complex and long-standing issues leading to this great outcome.”

Air Force’s contribution to NDS is heavily dependent on both the physical and mental wellbeing of members, and safety is the critical element in achieving that.

Commanding Officer 19 Squadron Wing Commander Belinda Edmunds credits the Command Sections Safety Checks with the safety roadmap outcome.

“Warrant Officer Eichmann has driven the adherence to our responsibilities around safety here at Butterworth,” Wing Commander Edmunds said.

“Our cultural plan has also been integral in expanding our vision for safety beyond physical safety, to ensure psychological safety hazards are incorporated in our safety management systems. Building our squadron’s character, culture and connection to support wellbeing is fundamental when you are dislocated from the traditional support networks within Australia.

“19 Squadron has a really tight community, so while safety takes dedicated effort and commitment, we have a saying in 19 Squadron that ‘if something doesn’t look right, sound right, feel right – we raise it without reservation’, and this has helped share the load in managing safety.

“Everyone here contributes to creating a place where people enjoy coming to work and where people feel safe and supported in discussing risks openly, in order to be able to minimise risks ‘so far as reasonably practical’.

“Managing both the physical and psychological safety of our members means our contribution to the NDS will be more effective and we will meet the challenges ahead.”

RMAF Base Butterworth is served through 19 Squadron with air base operations, force protection, mechanical equipment operations and maintenance section, workforce capability, air base logistics, and communications and information system section flights.

“Maintaining standards at every level is key and the most effective way to do that is by empowering our workforce to identify areas for improvement and look for ways to solve those issues identified,” Warrant Officer Eichmann said.

RMAF Base Butterworth is also home to Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System, Army’s 2nd/30th Training Group and Rifle Company Butterworth, and 92 Wing and Joint Health Command detachments.


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