Safety comes first
After head strike incidents reached an average of two a month last year, the Growler maintainers at No. 6 Squadron decided to do something about it.
Neil Tunbridge, Air Combat Electronic Attack System Program Office Safety Manager at RAAF Base Amberley, said he he asked the people with the most at stake – the airmen using them – to come up with a solution.
“Builders helmets were impractical due to their size, too hot to wear in northern summers, or couldn’t be worn with other PPE such as headsets or earmuffs,” Mr Tunbridge said.
“We even considered ballistic-type helmets, but they also were impractical.
“So we put it out to the squadron members. The most requested requirement was appearance – they had to look cool, be lightweight and not cumbersome.
“Internally, we had other considerations: cost, effectiveness, durability, availability and comfort. The material also had to be suitable for working with fuel, chemicals and in varying weather conditions.”
They hit the nail on the head when a Boeing Defence contractor realised they already used something that could work.
“Boeing maintenance have been using a low-profile bump cap for quite some time with great results,” Mr Tunbridge said.
“We trialled a few design variations and implemented a cost-effective solution. Six months on, we’ve had no strike incidents from maintainers wearing the caps and everyone seems to be pleased with them.
“An added benefit is that the plastic liner fits into their squadron caps and can also be used inside a beanie or balaclava.”