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Workplace Safety 

Workplace injuries in the Department of the Navy (DoN) have been declining in many areas in recent years1, a potential indication that the many prevention efforts being implemented are having a positive impact. However, the DoN still lost $978 million and experienced 36 active duty service member fatalities due to workplace mishaps in fiscal year 2012.1 The Navy classifies any incident resulting in injury or illness, or greater than $20,000 in property damage, as a mishap.2 In addition to the expense and tragic loss of lives caused by mishaps, injuries put service members on the sidelines, derailing their productivity and threatening their fitness for duty. Cultivating a culture of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that promote workplace safety can help reduce the number of mishaps and continue the positive trends seen over the last ten years.

Who is responsible for workplace safety?

With the high operational tempo and shrinking workforce the DoN has experienced over the last decade, it has become increasingly difficult for leaders and employees alike to maintain the highest standards of safety in the workplace. When safety precautions are ignored, however, you are not only putting yourself at risk, but your shipmates, fellow Marines and the mission. An injury in the workplace can affect your duty status and also keep you from participating in your favorite recreational activities outside of work. Whether afloat, ashore or in the aviation community, workplace safety measures must be in place and all staff should be responsible for creating and maintaining a safe environment.

Identifying potential hazards is a critical first step in establishing a safe work environment. This could include risks such as ergonomics, mechanical issues, fall hazards, noise pollution and the presence of dangerous chemicals. The method utilized by the Navy for assessing and mitigating risk is called Operational Risk Management, or ORM. ORM is a cyclical process of identifying potential hazards and assessing and controlling the associated risks.3 The process acknowledges that risk cannot be eliminated, but acceptable risk can be mitigated, increasing operational effectiveness and the probability of mission success. Visit the Naval Safety Center’s ORM website to learn more about ORM and how you can implement ORM principles into your workspace.

What can you do to stay safe at work?

In addition to following ORM principles, there are steps you can take every day to reduce the risk of injury to yourself and your coworkers. Below are some ways to stay injury-free while on the job:

  • Always use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for your environment and exposure such as protective eyewear, masks, hearing protection, hard hats, gloves, close-toed shoes/boots and protective clothing.
  • Be familiar with the risks in your area and know your command’s safety policy.
  • Know who your command safety officer is and how to contact them if you have questions.
  • Ensure you and your coworkers have received proper safety training and follow all safety precautions, including ORM principles.

Where can I go for more information?

General and job-specific resources and information for the Department of the Navy are available on workplace safety policy, training, consultation, resources and best practices.


1. Naval Safety Center. Naval Safety Center FY 12 Annual Report. Published February 11, 2013. Accessed June 11, 2013.

2. Naval Safety Center. Current Mishap Definitions and Reporting Criteria. Accessed July 19, 2013.

3. Chief of Naval Operations. OPNAV Instruction 3900.9C Operational Risk Management. Naval Operations and Readiness/03-500 Training and Readiness Services/3500.39C.pdf. Published July 2, 2010. Accessed July 11, 2012.


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