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Safety Procedures Questioned and Changed after Army Accident

Colonel Darron Wright, 46, was killed during a parachute training exercise in North Carolina. His death was “made possible by a string of administrative oversights,” reported The News Tribune.

Wright was an expert parachutist. On the fatal jump, Wright hit the edge of the door while exiting the plane and began an uncontrollable somersault. His leg caught the rig, and the parachute would not open correctly. The lines became tangled as he spun in the air. He pulled the cord for the reserve chute too late.

This accident exposed the need for safety culture. All workers must understand the rules and procedures to work safely.

According to an Army investigation obtained by The News Tribune, the former officer who died in the September accident at Fort Bragg was not ready to jump with a new kind of parachute when he attempted the airborne drill.

Wright’s death was also enabled by a “VIP culture” that allowed senior officers to make late demands on their subordinates and skip basic safety briefings. The News Tribune reported that four days before the flight, higher ups determined that soldiers scheduled for the jump should use a steerable parachute instead of the standard one.

These last minute changes eliminated the margin for error and the official mission plan was never updated to reflect the change.

As a result:

• The plane was flying below the recommended altitude for the MC-6 parachute. The pilots were not informed they had to fly at a higher altitude when the Army leaders decided to use the new parachutes.

• The late decision to use the new parachute “led to more work for an undermanned parachute-rigging company.” Investigators discovered Wright’s parachute was not packed to the latest standards and had two small flaws.

• Wright’s training had expired by the time of his fatal jump. No one had checked his parachuting records.

• A mandatory morning safety briefing and mock drill for their flight was skipped. The jumpmaster deferred to the officers’ experience.

Brig. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, who investigated the accident, wrote a report recommending 25 policy changes that would affect future jumps. Following the report, Fort Bragg had a new policy letter spelling out standards for use of the MC-6 parachute and an updated system to make sure paratroopers are qualified for their jumps. Senior officers received renewed orders emphasizing that they must attend safety briefings or be scratched from missions, and all paratroopers were required to attend training and adhere to standard operation procedures, regardless of rank or workload.

Workplace safety procedures are important to prevent injury. Safety procedures can help decrease the number of workplace accidents by minimizing risk and therefore protecting employees. Workers and managers need to follow safety procedures in the workplace at all times for the protection of all. If health and safety procedures are not followed, someone could be hurt or killed and expensive equipment may be damaged.

In New York State, injured employees may receive benefits under workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation offers no-fault benefits, meaning that an injured employee can receive benefits regardless of whether the employee, employer, co-worker or some other third party was at-fault.

The News Tribune story is “Army “VIP culture” led to parachute accident that killed former JBLM officer.”


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