Is Safety Part of Your Organization’s DNA?
Bob Baron, Ph.D
These days, just about everyone talks about safety culture. Many aviation organizations claim to have a healthy safety culture, including a Just Culture. In many cases, these organizations are correct in their assessment (verified objectively by both internal and external measures). In other cases, organizations may think they have a healthy safety culture, but in fact they are way off the mark. This may not be an intentional misdiagnosis, but rather an assumption based solely on metrics such as a low accident/incident rates and/or a lack of safety issues being reported on a regular basis. I’m sure you can see the problem with this way of thinking.
Truth is, in order for an organization to claim that safety is ingrained in its DNA, it must go farther than just checking boxes for compliance. Safety should be “the way business is done,” and—most importantly—it should not require any additional effort or expense beyond the compliance requirements. That being said, it’s important to differentiate between a paper SMS and a functional SMS. The former being a box checking exercise; the latter being a fundamental aspect of ensuring safety is, or becomes part of, the organization’s DNA. Bear in mind that a paper SMS will not, and cannot, promote a healthy safety culture, especially if the paper SMS is just a book that sits on the shelf...
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