Occupational Safety manager says diversity key to successful workplace

Kelley Hill, Occupational Safety manager at the 88th Air Base Wing Safety office, said his team’s priorities are to minimize the loss of resources, protect almost 30,000 base personnel from death, injury or occupational illness by managing risks on and off-duty, and to conduct the safety facility inspections and program assessments of more than 900 facilities and 100 mission partners on the installation. (Courtesy photo)

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Kelley Hill, Occupational Safety manager at the 88th Air Base Wing Safety office, said his team’s priorities are to minimize the loss of resources, protect almost 30,000 base personnel from death, injury or occupational illness by managing risks on and off-duty, and to conduct the safety facility inspections and program assessments of more than 900 facilities and 100 mission partners on the installation. (Courtesy photo)

Serving the Air Force both in uniform and as a civilian, Kelley Hill understands the value of diversity in the workplace and how it develops a strong team.

Hill is the Occupational Safety manager at the 88th Air Base Wing Safety office. His team’s priorities are to minimize the loss of resources, protect almost 30,000 base personnel from death, injury or occupational illness by managing risks on- and off-duty and to conduct the safety facility inspections and program assessments of more than 900 facilities and 100 mission partners on the installation.

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In addition, the Occupational Safety office manages traffic safety and provides safety and education programs for both newcomers and supervisors. Two of the most notable programs for the office is supervisor safety training and the annual motorcycle safety day.

Hill, a retired master sergeant, has played a vital role in developing the successful safety program team that is in place today.

“In 2011, the Safety office’s training budget was insufficient, and to comply with the career field’s requirement of 30 continuous education units per fiscal year per safety professional, I helped to incorporate standing, monthly, internal training sessions,” said Hill. “Since then, the training budget has been supported by leadership and accurately forecasted where safety training has become a programmatic strength.”

After a brief reassignment to the Air Force Materiel Command safety staff, Hill returned to the 88th Air Base Wing in 2015, he was pleased to see the monthly internal training sessions still existed.

But along with a strong safety program in place, Hill said it would not be so successful if it was not for the team that he has.

“I’m in awe of the talented individuals on our team and the success we have earned over the past four years,” said Hill. “We have consistently won team and individual awards at the both major command and squadron levels.”

Hill said for the workplace to be successful, it is vital to have a diverse team, but it can only go so far unless both supervisors and employees engage and embrace each other’s differences and perspectives.

“As a workforce, we must use caution when growing a diverse workforce,” said Hill. “Why? Because diversity can be perceived as superficial on the surface. Meaning, your workforce can be diverse with multiple ethnicities, genders, age groups, backgrounds, etc., but the litmus test is how well do you know your coworkers or subordinates? If the workforce is diverse and you know nothing about your people, then the attempt at diversity is fruitless.”

Hill said people should step outside of their comfort bubble and have deep, purposeful conversations with one another. He added that the Occupational Safety office has layers of diversity, and he makes it a daily practice to speak genuinely to each staff member at the start of each day.

“I take pride in knowing their spouses’ and kids’ names, their favorite sports teams, where they are from and what each member values,” said Hill. “The conversation is not forced and easily generates itself. Although I’m passionate about building relationships, at times I may not be able to completely relate, but you can certainly learn to understand each teammate, and as a supervisor that is very important.”

“The Air Force’s stance on diversity continues to grow, but individual experience is the key,” said Hill. “Understand your way of life is not status quo, everyone has a different background. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by a diverse workforce, you will get a different view from many walks of life, giving you an overall and rewarding experience.”

On his time off, Hill and his wife, Cherie, who also works at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a personnel management analyst for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, enjoy weight and fitness training. They both have competed in bodybuilding competitions. They also like spending quality time together with their two sons, Kelley Jr., 24, and Karim, 21.

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