I’ve met both civilian and military EHS professionals everywhere from Kabul, Afghanistan to Kansas. While there are numerous misconceptions about safety in the military, here are the two I hear quiet often.
- “You just tell them what to do, so safety is easy, right?”
Probably the most common one I hear. Because it’s the military, some people think skills like informal leadership, communication, and negotiation aren’t relevant. I mean, when we say march, they march, right? Isn’t it the same with safety rules and PPE? Not even close to reality. Today’s military professionals are some of the most educated, innovative, and critical thinkers in the world. That translates to shortcuts, questions, and skepticism. Just like the civilian organization.
- “Safety doesn’t really matter, it’s like you’re going to war…so what’s the big deal?”
War is tough. But it’s tougher if you never actually get there. In preparing for WWII, the U.S. lost most planes due to training incidents than the Germans and Japanese ever shot down. In the 1950s, at Nellis AFB, near Las Vegas, NV, losing 70 pilots a year was the average. During the last two decades in Iraq and Afghanistan, more military personnel were killed in non-combat vehicle mishaps than were ever killed by the enemy. Try telling your buddies that you’re home from Afghanistan because you took a corner too fast. It takes a lot of spin to make that story sound cool.
What misconceptions have you heard about military safety?