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Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri
Marine Corps Installations Pacific
and Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler
U.S. Marine Corps
Why is safety a core value at the U.S. Marine Corps?
MAJ. GEN. PETER J. TALLERI: Safety is an essential part of everything the Marine Corps does to ensure mission accomplishment with training, deployments, recreation and day-to-day business. As the Commanding General for Marine Corps Installations Pacific (MCIPAC) and Marine Corps Base Camp Butler (MCBB), having a robust safety program to ensure the safety and welfare of all employees (military, U.S. and host nation civilians) and family members is a key element that supports the war-fighter. Without an aggressive safety program in place, injuries and damage to materiel would increase, hampering our ability to quickly respond to a crisis or contingency. Our employees are our most valued asset, and I must ensure they have the right tools to perform the job as well as to ensure they are working in a safe environment.
Describe your personal journey to becoming a leader who "gets it." What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?
From the moment Marines receive the Eagle Globe and Anchor, they are expected to embody the mindset of "mission accomplishment before troop welfare." This statement should probably be followed with "while keeping safety in mind." I have served both during times of peace and times of conflict, and have learned throughout my career that safety should be at the front of every task. Marines already have an inherently dangerous job, but that is no excuse to forgo performing every task with safety in mind. A busy schedule means time constraints and the desire to "hurry up and get it done." It is imperative that at these times leaders set the example, make their personnel follow procedures and instill safety into the Warrior Ethos. If we as leaders fail to focus on the fundamentals of safety and procedures during military exercises and training evolutions, how can we expect our Marines to take safety into consideration during times of war? During my deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, I expected every Marine to be vigilant in order to maximize safety during missions to include convoys and combat operations. For the Marine Corps to progress as a safety-conscious institution, we must continue to educate, inform and reinforce safety at every level starting with the commander. With the inclusion of safety in every task and mission we greatly improve our ability to protect our most precious assets.
What is the biggest obstacle to safety, and how do you work to overcome it?
There are several obstacles MCIPAC has regarding safety. One is our strategic location working in three countries while ensuring host nation, federal, Department of Defense and Marine Corps directives and policies are in place and working effectively. Working with host nation employees/supervisors to ensure they understand their responsibility toward a safe working environment is valuable and essential to mission accomplishment. Using resources efficiently in a time of budget constraints is challenging; however, communicating my safety goals and expectations to the workforce and obtaining their buy-in can greatly reduce mishap costs while preventing a loss in mission success. I rely heavily on my Installation Commanders, assigned managers and supervisors to ensure the integrity of the safety program is sustained and continues to thrive. I chair a quarterly Safety Council where I receive updates to initiatives, programs and problematic situations that may need my attention or direction. Reduction in the safety program to offset areas with limited resources is not an option because safety equates to mission success.
How do you instill a sense of safety in employees on an ongoing basis?
As the Commanding General, I promote a safety culture that enables the community to have a safe and healthy work and living environment by ensuring safety is integrated into every aspect of what we do in the office and during recreational activities. Establishing policy, conducting training and executing program management are a few components of our safety program, while giving individuals the right tools to use for risk management so they can make proper decisions.
How do you measure safety? What are the leading indicators that you use, and where do you see room for improvement?
The MCIPAC Safety Director conducts an annual assessment using an in-depth inspection checklist to measure the effectiveness of our safety program. Deficiencies identified are documented and placed in a Plan of Action and Milestones for abatement. An annual CG Inspection Program is in place to inspect each installation's safety program, and identified findings/deficiencies are documented and reported with a corrective action plan to be initiated. Additionally, Headquarters Marine Corps, Safety Division, conducts a biannual command safety assessment to ensure programs are compliant and mission capable.
Another tool we use is the "Warrior Preservation Status Report," which is reviewed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Safety Division Director quarterly. This report provides the Marine Corps with an overall status on a command's safety program that reflects mishap rates, facility inspections completed, safety council meetings, training requirements for supervisors and other pertinent information for a commander to use.
Our mishap rate for injuries and safety belt usage rates for MCBB are a few leading indicators for our safety program. Our days away, restricted or transfer from work rate equals 2.29 for a workforce of approximately 1,400 employees, and we have a 98.5 percent safety belt usage rate for on-base driving with zero vehicular fatalities during the last three years. Additionally, I have an immensely professional and well-trained safety office to support all facets of operational and recreational safety.
Areas my safety director is engaged in to improve on the safety program consist of host-nation relations to address concerns with the medical surveillance program for our Japanese civilian employees. The Government of Japan requirements are not the same as Marine Corps standards and therefore, I want to ensure all of our employees are working in a safe environment and are medically qualified to do so.
What role does off-the-job safety play in your overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs do you offer to employees?
In the Marine Corps, people are our greatest asset. Recreational activities are vital to ensuring the workforce maintains a healthy life balance, but recreational safety is critical so that everyone comes back to work ready to perform. The MCIPAC safety office focuses on all aspects of recreational safety from home and sports to leisure activities and public playgrounds. Living/working in the Asia-Pacific region provides ample opportunities for many water-related activities, such as diving or deep sea fishing. Water safety is extremely important, as this activity provides the greatest potential for accidents and mishaps. We have local policies covering water safety, mixed martial arts and leisure to ensure the safety and well-being of those that support our mission. Moreover, every summer, an operational pause is conducted for all commands to stress the importance of recreational safety in order to educate our workforce.
The Marine Corps is America's Expeditionary Force in Readiness √± a balanced air-ground-logistics team. We are forward deployed and forward engaged: shaping, training, deterring and responding to all manner of crises and contingencies. We create options and decision space for our nation's leaders. Alert and ready, we respond to today's crises with today's force, today.