Military Leadership

Opening Session: Former Navy commander discusses strong safety culture

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Atlanta – Naturally, we want to protect our family.

Therefore, it’s vital to keep family in mind when creating a workplace safety culture.

Former Navy Commander Mike Abrashoff shared this message Sept. 28 during the Opening Session at the 2015 NSC Congress & Expo. He took the USS Benfold from one of the worst safety rankings in the Navy to the best.

Abrashoff recalled, in one instance, how a new sailor was mugged after exiting a gate.

Revamping orientation, Abrashoff started a liaison with the boot camp before sailors were assigned. They were met at the airport, received instructions and were paired with the best sailors. He strived to give his crew the best training, and urged them to share ideas and approach him with any unaddressed safety concerns.

“I challenged our people to start creating a culture where you would be proud to have your own family members come to be a part of it,” Abrashoff said.

Abrashoff also stressed the importance of connecting with workers. He interviewed all 310 sailors, learned their names and family members’ names, and asked what motivated them.

“What I want to do is to gain their trust and loyalty and their hearts, and say ‘We own this and we’re responsible for it,’” he said. “What happened? The crew turned their own ship around.”