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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2007

Newest Air Force 'detectives' are looking for green

By Staff Sgt. Brian Hansberry 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office

ESOHCAMP personnel across the Air Force are going from policemen to detectives as the Department of Defense strives to go greener.

According to Lackland's Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program manager David Rairdan, the existing Environmental Management System standard is bringing a higher level of responsibility to all shops throughout all the services.

"Conformance," the latest environmental buzz word, requires all personnel to look at everything they do, from turning off lights to aircraft refueling to cleaning pots at the dining facility, and see what can be done differently to lessen negative impacts on the environment, Mr. Rairdan said.

Under the former compliance system, Mr. Rairdan said his team would inspect an area, find a problem, write it up and see temporary improvement.

"We were just a bunch of policemen," the manager said. "(People) think we are going to make them do this stuff. Under conformance, we will be more like detectives, trying to get to the foundation of (environmental) programs."

As detectives, the local ESOHCAMP team members will talk to random people on base about environmental programs instituted at their unit level and in their work centers. This casual polling helps prepare the base for inspections, or audits, from higher headquarters.

Using the conformance concept, questions will be open-ended and require more knowledge than prior compliance-based inspections. Base personnel should be prepared to answer questions like, "Does the base have an environmental policy statement?" and "How are ESOH issues associated in your day-to-day job?"

"All personnel should be trained to have knowledge of the environmental issues relevant to where they work, and then audit their programs regularly to ensure a good, sustainable plan is in place," Mr. Rairdan said.

Ultimately, the new program belongs to Team Lackland. The units will be responsible for identifying and improving processes, implementing them, and then reviewing and improving them again.

"There is a lot of hard work ahead of us," said Mr. Rairdan. "Getting a new program like this started will be hard, but once it's up and running, the base will have a program that can grow and improve, not just to pass inspections, but to actually lessen our impact on the environment and improve our occupational health and safety."