NORFOLK - The Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) has released an updated instruction that strengthens communication and emphasis toward safety.
The Navy Safety and Occupational Health Program (OPNAVINST 5100.23H and manual) “changes how the Navy approaches safety,” said Jonathan Wilson, Naval Safety Center (NAVSAFECEN) shore safety programs director. “Safety will now be an agency focus. Agency focus relates to how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) views the Navy and holds the Navy accountable as an agency.
“We are required to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970,” Wilson said. “Agency focus results in a matrix organization with shared accountability, authority, responsibility and subject matter expertise for safety that is now shared at the Echelon 2 level and below.”
The revised instruction’s central concept is better communication.
“This instruction clarifies roles, responsibilities and programs to show how accountability, authority, responsibility and subject matter expertise is shared for safety,” said Commander, Naval Safety Center, Rear Adm. F. R. “Lucky” Luchtman. “These updates to the Navy Safety and Occupational Health program improve our ability to preserve combat readiness and provides a safe workplace for our military and civilian personnel.”
OPNAVINST 5100.23H and manual provide safety professionals at all levels of responsibility with policy guidance, tools and training to support operational readiness and sustainability, in compliance with safety laws, regulations and executive orders to operate safe and healthful work areas as well as overseeing safe practices outside the work area.
“The instruction’s format is quite different from its predecessor,” Wilson said. “We now have an instruction that refers to a manual which contains codified guidance to manage safety programs across the fleet properly. This instruction and manual drives proactive, frequent communication across the Navy to build awareness and drive safety actions.”
The manual is broken down into sections and is bookmarked for ease of use. Section A details Safety Management Systems (SMS), including policies, risk management, assurance and promoting safety programs. Section B describes Safety and Occupational Health (SOH) programs.
Major SOH program topics updated with the revision include:
Chapter 3 - Organization and Staffing
Chapter 4 - Councils and Committees
Chapter 5 - Hazard Identification
Chapter 6 - Training
Chapter 8 - Occupational Health
Chapter 9 - Safety Assurance
Chapter 18 - Hearing Conservation
Chapter 27 - Confined Space Entry
Chapter 30 - Indoor Environmental Quality
The manual also incorporates material handling with powered industrial trucks, aerial work platform safety, electrical safety, traffic safety, recreational off-duty safety (RODS) and system safety for the first time under a single instruction (Chapters 33 – 38). Additionally, the manual codifies how RODS will now follow an SMS concept, superseding OPNAVINST 5100.12J, 5100.24 and 5100.25C, which are canceled.
A key change to the instruction is in the Base Operating Support (BOS) area. The Department of Defense changed its Support Agreements policy (DOD Instruction 4000.19) in August 2018, requiring host agencies to provide like services to other agencies, such as BOS safety services.
“This DODI change was huge,” Wilson said. “It was a game-changer when it came to BOS. That is why we made changes to ensure that the level of quality support provided to the tenants would be the same as they would receive or provide for their own missions.”
The BOS safety services and delivery expectations, detailed in Chapter 3, include new requirements for ensuring that hazards are properly identified, recorded and corrected throughout the Navy. Installation Safety Councils (ISC) play an essential role in meeting the new requirements, giving installation commanders an overview of hazards and risks across their installations. Composed of installation command and tenant safety representatives, ISCs track deficiencies and hazards, provide coordination to facilitate changes and ensure all inspections are completed.
“All tenants on Navy installations will work through their Installation Safety Councils to correct deficiencies in properly identifying, recording and correcting hazards,” Wilson said.
The revised instruction and manual represent a significant change in safety program procedures, and the bottom line in its success will be effective communication.
“Each Navy employee plays a vital role in creating a culture of safety ownership and ensuring success,” Luchtman said. “Communicating feedback up and down the operational chains of command, as well as overall risk information, is imperative. The Naval Safety Center stands ready to bridge communication barriers and coordinate successful outcomes.”