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NEWS | Aug. 5, 2010

ESOHCAMP evaluates Lackland's environmental impact

By Patrick Desmond 502nd Air Base Wing OL-A Public Affairs

An Air Education and Training Command inspection team evaluated Lackland's impact on the environment and the surrounding community last week.

The Environmental Safety Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program assessment surveyed compliance with government regulations as well as conformance with self-imposed environmental, occupational health and safety policies.

The team visited 135 facilities, reviewed 2,679 documents and conducted 304 interviews while on base July 26-30.

Overall, the base's occupational health and safety programs received a healthy rating, while the environmental program was rated a step below and seen as operational but needing focus.

Major and minor conformance findings, and significant, high-risk and major compliance findings were used to judge a program's health.

Repeat findings indicate problems that were not fixed while carry-forward findings report a work in progress due to extrinsic pressures such as lack of fiscal means.

Of the 67 total findings, 38 were for compliance and 29 for conformance, with the largest proportion attributed to environmental and management system. Six repeat findings were also found.

Lackland's ESOHCAMP manager, David Rairdan, said this year's assessment leaned more toward assessing programs' ability to self-monitor, with the goal of making noncompliance a non-issue in future assessments.

"We are looking ahead to improve our system," Mr. Rairdan said. "It's like taking that next step ahead. Eventually, you're self-policing."

Mr. Rairdan said programs are getting better with each assessment, which is the goal of ESOHCAMP: bringing programs that are working to the attention of leadership while highlighting areas that need solutions.

As ESOHCAMP manager during the past three external assessments, Mr. Rairdan notes a shift from compliance toward creating programs that exceed energy and environmental regulations.

One of the bright spots in this assessment, he said, was the high percentage of people who were well aware of their ESOH responsibilities.

By default, the figure also points out another area that can be improved.

"It's a culture change," he said. "(Even though) 85 percent of people understand their ESOH responsibilities, there are still (many) people who had no clue."

The importance of having assessments is bringing the issues to the surface and then coming up with solutions, Mr. Rairdan said.

Lackland has 60 days to review the findings and submit a plan of resolution. Solutions should identify the problem and the resources required to fix it, and also detail how to address the root cause of the problem.

Each Air Force major command conducts ESOHCAMP assessments every three years. The base will analyze the solutions put in place and reassess the programs' health each year before the next external ESOHCAMP in 2013.