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News > U.S. Air Force Safety remodels risk management program
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Operational risk management six-step process
The operational risk management six-step cycle will be phased out and replaced with a five-step cycle. This will make the process more user-friendly and align the U.S. Air Force alongside the risk management cycle used by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. (U.S. Air Force graphic)
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U.S. Air Force Safety remodels risk management program

Posted 4/14/2010   Updated 4/14/2010 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Andria J. Allmond
512th AW Public Affairs

4/14/2010 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The U.S. Air Force is introducing four major changes to the Air Force Operational Risk Management program soon.

The Air Force ORM is a decision-making process used to systematically evaluate possible courses of action, identify risks and benefits, and determine the best course of action for any given situation.

"The changes being put in place will make it easier for the individual Airman to implement the process of risk management," said Lt. Col. Don Whitley, chief of the 512th Airlift Wing safety office. "Also, these modifications will help our Airmen identify and mitigate risks more efficiently.

"The idea is that our reservists can use this process not just while in the uniform but also in their civilian jobs," he said. "We want our people to remain safe while they're not here, so they can return to us and fight another day."

The first change is the program's name.

"We will be dropping the 'O' from ORM and referring to the program as risk management," said Maj. John Pattison, Air Force Reserve Command Risk Management program manager. "This change was put into place in order to combat the notion that ORM is only for operations. Risk management is supposed to be an all-inclusive program influencing all decision making, at all levels, on and off duty."

The second adjustment converts the six-step risk management cycle into a five-step cycle.

The six-step cycle is as follows: identify hazards, assess the risk, analyze the risk control measures, make control decisions, implement risk control, and supervise and review

Originally separate, the analysis of risk and the making of control decisions will now be combined to create the third step. Major Pattison said merging the third and fourth phases aligns the Air Force's actions with those of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. He said making risk management a joint-branch effort will increase its utility and move the program forward, while helping to conserve time and resources.

Another change is the adoption and implementation of a "time critical" risk management process during the implementation phase of decision making, said the major. This applies particularly to off-duty decisions requiring more time devoted to risk evaluation.

"An example of this can be seen when doing something as ordinary as housework," said Colonel Whitley. "If one of our Airmen has to work on their roof and there's no one else around at the time, we want that person to make the safest decisions possible before engaging in a possibly dangerous act. Even when a reservist is not on any type of status, they can use the skills of risk management."

Lastly, Air Force Safety would like to eliminate the need for unit risk management representatives. Instead, the vision is to teach basic risk management to all Airmen.

"We will build on training with each formal school attended in an Airman's career," said Major Pattison. "We plan to eliminate the need for a unit risk management checklist to be maintained and evaluated. Instead, within each functional area checklist there will be two or three items that address the use of risk management concepts applicable to that function."

Currently, the Air Force Instruction governing risk management, AFI 90-901, is being rewritten in order to reflect these changes.

"The AFI is going through an approval process right now; there is a lot that goes into making these kind of modifications," said Colonel Whitley. "But, we know we'll be seeing these changes come into fruition in the near future."

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