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Annual Safety Risk Management Day 2022

Annual Safety Risk Management Day 2022

Read MajGen Phelka's memo to Commanders about this year's SRM Day

"Public trust is one of the most precious resources we have. Without that, we cannot honor our longstanding legacy, nor can we assure our relevance and credibility for the future. Each of our roles as leaders is a temporary one, and every moment is an opportunity to leave a long-lasting imprint on what CAP will be long after we have moved on to other roles." - MajGen Edward Phelka, CAP National Commander

"Commanders of all active units will set aside one meeting day during the months of January, February, or March to conduct an Annual Safety RM Day. The sole focus of the day is a RM refresher for all members, specifically geared towards the hazards and risks they face in their daily lives, their CAP activities, and their specific missions." - CAPR 160-1

For this Annual SRM Day, think “People First”

It’s been nearly 11 months since I joined the CAP NHQ staff. During that time, I’ve asked a lot of questions and learned about what’s working, what’s not working, and where we need to get better. There are some exceptional things happening that warrant acknowledgement, and there are also some critical challenges to address, specifically, making safety more people centric. Safety doesn’t happen in paperwork alone; it happens in people-work.

The right thing to do

To that end, it’s the time of year to spend one day between the beginning of January and the end of March to talk about Safety Risk Management. I’m no stranger to the groans that can accompany events like this one, but my hope is that, together, we can make the event more than a box to check or something we must do because we have a regulation that requires it. We make the event more than that, in part, by showing that we value our members and their role in ensuring every mission and activity is as safe as reasonably possible – as a “right thing to do.”

To make these safety interactions as meaningful as possible, the content you share should be relevant to your audience. Not everything on my list on the 2022 Annual SRM Day Emphasis Items and Resources page is going to be relevant to every unit. Please choose what you think are the best, most relevant, topics to cover and run with them – even if they aren’t on my list. I believe this approach increases the chance of messages shared during the Annual SRM Day being heard, understood, and applied.

Focus on why

Regardless of the content you choose, talk about why it’s important to cover it, why it matters, and why it must be practiced. All the reporting and assessments in the world aren’t going to make us safer unless people hold safety as a personal value, which is demonstrated by diligently acting in ways that reflect care and concern for each other and the resources entrusted to us. That ideal is more about guiding, mentoring, and coaching so people learn to apply the rules and use the tools that keep themselves and each other safe.

What’s the challenge? It takes time to engage with people, to help them learn and grow, and to help them embrace safety as a personal value – as many of you already do every day. When you do engage, you’ll find that there are a variety of attitudes about safety and that everyone has a unique view of what “safe” means and whether prevention is worth the effort when it comes to avoiding some outcomes. The investment of time and energy to ensure we align those attitudes with our values demonstrates that leaders are actively helping members to understand potential hazards, assures members that leaders are concerned about their safety and the safety of their teammates, frames and plans activities that are suitable for members and their abilities, and helps members self-assess those abilities.

Acknowledging successes

I have a few successes to share with you that I think are noteworthy.

Let’s start with safety reporting. Keep up the good work! I believe we have a robust reporting culture, and the data I see reflects a willingness to report safety issues. Even more robust reporting will help us make better decisions when it comes to safety interventions that make sense. Help us celebrate this important achievement by recognizing those who have personally reported safety issues.

We also have some exceptional Review Officers: members who take that role seriously, demonstrate high integrity, and produce an excellent review that gets to the root of contributing factors. If you know anyone who fits this model, please acknowledge them, and offer our thanks for their commitment to the ideals of our safety culture.

Lastly, we have a dedicated team of Safety Officers, Directors of Safety, and National Senior Safety Program Advisors who work tirelessly and thanklessly to uphold CAP’s core values and the principles of our safety program. Every interaction I have with you demonstrates your dedication, commitment, care, and passion for this organization and this program. I thank you for your great work, your support, and your insightful feedback in making the program just a little better than the day before.

Where we can make a difference

The one area where I think a difference can be made is in how we treat human error when it’s a factor. It’s hard to talk constructively about human error but easy to experience error identification as blame oriented. After all, part of safety’s job is to discover “what went wrong,” no matter how much “went right.” However, what went right may be just as important as what went wrong – and I intend to address that in 2022. Unfortunately, in a field where 80% of accidents and incidents are caused mainly by human error, human error will often be identified as a factor. With such an emphasis on where errors were made, it’s easy to see how people involved in a safety event can feel blamed.

Every human being everywhere is susceptible to making an error, and sometimes it’s hard for an individual to see where their own personal error was a factor. That’s not to say that human error shouldn’t be included in our reviews and that addressing those errors shouldn’t be part of a mitigation strategy. Addressing error is not the same as assigning blame. What’s the difference? If all we look for is, “Who is responsible?” we are defaulting to blame. When we look for all contributing and causal factors, we may find that human error is only part of the equation. When we’re willing expand where we look for opportunities for continuous improvement beyond “Who is responsible?” we are embracing a more just approach to safety risk management.

Focus some time on activity planning

One area I’m asking you to cover is the importance of planning and the integral role of risk management in the planning process. I’ve included a few resources on the 2022 Annual SRM Day Emphasis Items and Resources page to support covering that topic. When you engage with members on this topic, invite them to share the “pains” they experience in applying the process. Once you have more information on the challenges members face, then you can work on ways to address them. Planning for safe outcomes must be more than an exercise in paperwork: it must make sense and be useful and beneficial to the user and the participant.

Regarding the list you will see on the 2022 Annual SRM Day Emphasis Items and Resources page, I believe they are the kinds of safety issues that are worth the effort to prevent, either because they represent serious threats to our members’ wellbeing or are costly in terms of equipment replacement or repair, or loss of mission capability. The key to managing the potential for harm or loss is in taking the time to plan and prepare. When good planning is a part of missions and activities, uninjured people and capable equipment are available for missions which leads to increased trust from members, parents, and the public.

I’m grateful to be a part of this amazing organization and to be working with such amazing people who are committed to serving our country, our communities, our young people, and each other. I am truly awed by CAP’s legacy and look forward to being a part of CAP’s future.


Thank you,

Michael Nunemaker, Chief of Safety

And the CAPSafety Team

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