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My Coast Guard
Commentary | March 1, 2023

Go “Back to the Basics” with the 2nd Annual Support Equipment Safety Awareness Campaign 

By Judy Silverstein, CG-4B Change Management Organization, Strategic Communications Team 

Safety awareness is essential in all Coast Guard working environments whether at sea, on aircraft, from buoy decks to offices. Joe Sump, Support Equipment Product Line Manager, says that is why the slogan “Back to the Basics” for this year’s Support Equipment Safety Awareness Campaign resonates.  
“In the 2022 Commandant’s Intent, one of Admiral Fagan’s priorities is to be ‘Brilliant at the Basics,’” Sump says. “Too often, we get so wrapped up in just getting the mission completed, that complacency creeps in and we forget basic things, such as a simple pre-operational check prior to offloading a pallet with a forklift.” 
Sump’s been serving in his role as the Support Equipment Product Line Manager since September 2022. But his background as an active duty U.S. Navy aircraft mechanic, coupled with 17 years of service as a Coast Guard civilian at the Aviation Logistics Center, have helped strengthen his passion for developing a safety culture and situational awareness.  

Sump’s skills range from working on a production line to managing the Gearbox Shop or working in quality assurance, to leading a diverse workforce of active duty, civilians, and contractors as a general foreman. He has worked with all kinds of support equipment such as scissor lifts, mobile cranes, tugs, overhead hoists, and gantry cranes, to name a few. 

“I still maintain a current forklift, scissor lift, and mobile crane license just in case I’m ever called off the bench,” Sump says. No stranger to risky operations, he also reminds himself -- and others -- that going back to the basics also includes stowing your cellphone when walking around a warehouse or office. 

“Phenomena like inattentional blindness are also avoidable by slowing down and accounting for your situation and surroundings,” he added. “It’s all about the basics.” 

We recently sat down with Sump, a native of Grand Ledge, Michigan, for a question-and-answer session and wanted to share some of what he discussed: 

How would you explain the role of a Product Line?  
Product Lines serve customers as one-stop advocates for Mission Support. 

What does having a Support Equipment Product Line mean to the Coast Guard workforce? 
Our mission is to help provide the workforce with integrated logistics support, standardized acquisitions, readiness reporting, operating procedures, and technical services for all support equipment necessary to enable mission execution.  

Aligned with this, our safety goals are:

  • To reduce the likelihood of an accident;
  • Ensure supervisors have the knowledge to be able to select the proper SE and SE operator for the situation; 
  • Ensure operator, rigger, safety, and supervisor personnel are trained and proficient in the safe and effective use of weight and material handling equipment; 
  • And to establish a maintenance program to ensure it is ready for operation. 

Can you tell us why you think the 2023 Safety Awareness Campaign matters? 
The 2023 Safety Awareness Campaign provides a stark reminder that we need to keep the safety of ourselves, our shipmates, and our equipment in the forefront of our daily operations. I hope this can provide a sort-of “safety standdown” for units that do not normally have them. At a minimum, continuous learning and discussions should be part of all we do to ensure a working environment where safety is an integral part of our culture.  

How do the Safety Equipment Product Line (SEPL) EPL and SE Program work together? 
Our relationship reminds me of famous quote by Andrew Carnegie: “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."  

For me, it is much like how a gearbox works; there are multiple gears, inputs, stages, and lubrication that must take place to provide a specific output, or in our case a service, to ensure proper operations. The SEPL couldn’t exist without the SE Program’s constant and unwavering support and guidance.  

What’s on the horizon for the SEPL in the next few months? 
We are working on furthering our asset assessments to include the aviation side, and what that looks like for us and the Coast Guard. Additionally, the SEPL standard operating procedure draft is underway. We are examining the possibility of developing a service-wide Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) disposal service event    , which could offer a way for units to get rid of non-mission capable equipment. 

Our future looks bright, and we will continue support and upgrades of the new Technical Equipment Authorization Request (TEAR) process/program. Since we moved into our new home within the ALC, we are working to outfit our spaces with new cubicles, workstations, and items such as phones, so we can have them ready for future SEPL employees.    

Any parting thoughts? 
I encourage everyone to investigate human factors in mishaps, which Merriam Webster defines as “an unfortunate accident”. It’s critical we each understand the large role safety awareness plays in each of them. Keep your head on a swivel, wear your personal protective equipment, and remember your basics. Be active in spreading the safety message and take care of one another! 

Finally, the SE Program and Product Line are proud to serve each one of you. But we want you to remain safe. Take the month of March and use the SE Safety Awareness Campaign materials to slow down and go “back to the basics.” 

For more information, visit our Sharepoint page.  

Our second annual SE Safety Awareness Campaign, “Back to the Basics” includes training modules and best practices. It begins on March 1 and runs throughout the month. The SE Program and Support Equipment Product Line encourage units to take time during March to have meaningful discussions, while also emphasizing a culture of safety. 

In the News:


  • Second annual Support Equipment Safety Awareness Campaign ALSAFETY 07/23