happen. A person who expects a mishap will do
something to avoid it.
The idea that mishaps are unplanned or
unintended implies two things. First, you should
train people to understand what can and might
happen so that preventive measures can be taken.
For example, suppose you were an Electricians
Mate and understood that someone could turn on
a power switch without checking first to see if it
were safe to do so. You would be more likely to
protect yourself by removing the fuses in the
power supply circuit and properly tagging out the
switch. Knowing what might happen could
prevent a possible mishap. Second, you should
believe the unexpected will occur sooner or later
unless you take appropriate precautions. For
example, suppose you are convinced that sooner
or later you will get a foreign body in your eye
unless you wear goggles. You will then probably
wear goggles when using a power tool. Believing
the mishap may occur will prompt you to protect
When a person has a mishap, production is
always interrupted. The interruption may only
involve a half an hour to get a minor injury treated
at sick bay. At the other extreme, a disabling
injury may mean the loss of a person for several
weeks or months and, therefore, the loss of a
needed skill. All these possibilities mean lost
man-hours; lost man-hours means a delay in
completing the task for which the section or
division is responsible.
Why the concern about mishaps being
production losses? Mishap prevention is as much
a part of your job as assuring productivity.
Experience has shown that the two go hand in
handwhen safety is improved, productivity is
also improved, and vice versa. Mishaps are
symptoms of inefficient methods, tools, equip-
ment, machines, materials, or work areas. As a
supervisor, once you accept this viewpoint, you
will also agree that promoting safety is part of
Promoting safety involves more than reporting
mishaps and correcting dangerous situations after
someone has been injured, property has been
damaged, or work has been interrupted. Mishap
prevention also requires alertness for, and
response to, situations we shall call near mishaps.
A near mishap is an event that was prevented from
resulting in property damage or personnel injury
by a fraction of time or someones timely action.
Because no injury or damage results in near
mishaps, some supervisors fail to investigate them.
Hence, the facts are not made a matter of record
and the causes go uncorrected. Sooner or later the
same conditions could occur and result in serious
Consider the case of a person who fell several
feet from a ladder after slipping on a worn ladder
tread. The person was slightly shaken but without
injury. The fact that the sailor escaped injury was
purely circumstantial. If the causes of the near
mishap had not been corrected, the next victim
could have suffered serious injury.
Some near mishaps involve equipment failure
of some kind, such as a line parting, a control
mechanism malfunctioning, or the brakes of a
vehicle not holding. Some are instances of
personnel failure. Take for example a sailor who
had just finished hooking up a poorly loaded skip
box full of used boiler firebricks. After stepping
clear of the skip box, the sailor signaled the crane
operator to hoist away. As the load was about
10 feet off the deck and being swung over the side,
the bricks shifted and several fell to the deck.
Being clear of the load, the sailor was not struck
by the falling bricks. Another near mishap.
Near mishaps should be investigated whenever
reported or observed. They are forewarnings of
what might happen again. A mishap is almost
certain to follow when such forewarnings are
THE NAVY SAFETY PROGRAM
The objective of the Navys safety program
is to enhance operational readiness. That is done
by reducing the number of deaths and injuries to
personnel and losses and damage to material
because of mishaps. The safety program is based
on the issuance of general safety precautions to
each person in the command. These include
mishap prevention precautions and instructions
regarding special hazards encountered in the daily
work environment. The general safety precautions
also include supervision in matters of safety,
including continuing action and command interest
in mishap prevention, and evaluation of the
effectiveness of the program.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE
The responsibility and authority for the
administration of the safety program lies within
the normal unit organization. Figure 8-2 shows
a typical safety organization.