February 1, 2024
My mom and grandma used to say, “cleanliness is next to godliness.” When those words were spoken, we all knew that we were in trouble. We knew what was to follow; our Saturday was ruined, and we were about to embark on an 8-hour class of cleaning the house, yard, and barn.
I mention this because most of us are aware of the “Dirty Dozen,” but we rarely talk about a clean work area and workplace. A clean work area will help prevent slips and falls as well as aircraft incidents and/or accidents.
In March 2023, an F-35A engine belonging to the United States Air Force (USAF) incurred substantial damage amounting to nearly $4 million due to the ingestion of a handheld flashlight. A USAF Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) neglected to clear the engine inlet of foreign objects after completing the required inspections, ultimately resulting in the flashlight being inadvertently left on the lip of the engine intake.
We have all seen with our own eyes sheet metal shavings left behind on wire bundles, a box of rags inadvertently left in the fuel tank dry bay, aircraft insulation partially wrapped around flight control cables, and a lengthy list of situational awareness hazards to a clean work area.
Our work as skilled aircraft maintenance professionals can be physically and mentally demanding, yet it also requires attention to detail at many levels. We tend to forget how important it is to leave our work area in better condition than how we found it. Our habits and attention to the smallest detail could be the difference between an uneventful, safe flight or a life-threatening, catastrophic flight.
With the dirty dozen in mind, take pride in your work, and remember that cleanliness is next to godliness.
National Safety & Standards Director