JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –Unknown to him nine years ago when he cross-trained to the safety career field, Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Franklin, 11th Air Force Ground Safety superintendent, would be one of the National Safety Council Rising Stars of Safety. Selected from more than 110 nominees working in a variety of industries representing four different countries, Franklin stands out as the only Air Force representative to receive the award this year.
The NSC Rising Stars of Safety showcases up-and-coming safety professionals younger than 40, who have a track record of demonstrating leadership, innovation and involvement in their organization’s safety culture, while promoting continuous safety improvement in the workplace.
“Engaging the NSC Rising Stars will be an important part of making a greater impact on saving lives and preventing injuries as we deal with emerging safety issues, such as the evolving nature of work and the changing face of the workforce,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of NSC.
Franklin’s then-supervisor, Mel Flynn, former 11th Air Force chief of safety, recognizes the Ithaca, N.Y., native’s hard work.
“Josh’s belief in the value of safety is predicated on his conviction that simple compliance is not an end point for safety programs, but merely a commencement,” Flynn said. “His dedication to people and their well-being is transparent in his instructions and daily interactions.”
“Air Force is the only service that has an enlisted career field for safety,” Franklin said. “It is important that we maintain the career field; it shows the importance of the training we do. It’s a career progression. Air Force winning four consecutive years in the NSC has paid off, because it shows how well we are trained and how we can serve the Air Force.”
As a retrainee, Franklin has seen a lot of things that he wishes he could improve.
“I was an Aircraft mechanic, and I saw a lot of things that were not safe and it gives me a pragmatic view of safety — what can and cannot be done,” Franklin said. “I don’t automatically read the regulations that say we can’t do this. We have to approach it as how you can do it and how I can help you support people and keep people safe.”
While deployed to Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Franklin noticed an increasing number of sport-related injuries to service members. He researched ways to reduce ankle injuries and found an on-going Air Force study regarding ankle braces. He procured several hundred of the braces and designed an education flyer to encourage their use during all organized games. Because Franklin recognized the trend and encouraged athletes to use ankle braces, ankle injuries during games were reduced 57 percent during the next five months.
Looking into the Transit Center at Manas safety program, the 16-year Air Force veteran also noticed a safety hazard of appliances used in living quarters. Without proper certification, appliances that had not gone through rigorous inspection did not meet the safety standards for electrical devices and components. Identifying the impending threat, Franklin revitalized the replacement of all non-certified appliances throughout the base and successfully completed the project in less than two months, ensuring the safety of service members and reducing the risk of fire to $52 million in U.S. assets.
Preparing to redeploy back to home station, he was informed he was one of the 40 honorees for the Class of 2013, NSC Rising Stars of Safety.
“It was exciting to know that I was nominated because the NSC is a civilian award,” Franklin said. “So to win something outside the Air Force is pretty special for the Air Force because it shows that we are doing a good job of developing our safety in the community enough to be recognized outside the Department of Defense.”
To Franklin, Rising Star means there is a lot of potential for the Air Force to go continue safety innovations.
“I get to bring other safety expertise from the other 39 nominees back to the community and also bring back their ideas,” Franklin said. “That’s the best thing about the Rising Star.”