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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Safety Goes Hand in Glove with Mission

By Keith Cianfrani

Safety is not an entity in and itself. Pilots need to develop a healthy perspective for safety, not think of it as an obstacle to mission accomplishment, but a means to mission accomplishment.

I’d like to highlight the links among management, standardization, training and safety. These items “go hand in glove with mission accomplishment and cannot be separated.” One could define management as “the process of acquiring priorities, allocation and using resources (people, money, material, facilities, information, time and processes) in an effective and efficient manner.”

We could also define safety as “the conservation of resources (human life and equipment) while accomplishing a mission or task.” These two statements form the basis for the same theme leaders should follow and calls for establishing requirements as necessary for the safety and conservation of aviation resources under their control. This will conserve manpower and material by reducing losses due to accidents.

The basic gist here is to accomplish the mission while conserving resources. We do this and prepare for this with training and standardization, or standardized training. Let’s look at some statements and definitions in training and standardization, and note the ties with management and safety.

Standardization can be defined as “The management principle which fosters the development and sustainment of a high state of proficiency and readiness among pilots and employees throughout an organization. Standardization is accomplished through the universal application of uniform practices and procedures.”

You may ask where or at what level this standardization or development of uniform practices begins. It starts with everyone at every level. Executing training using approved publications provides the basis for standardization. By following these guidelines, safety becomes a by-product of professionalism, and professionalism means complying with all set standards (directives, technical manuals, regulations, SOPs, training plans, and company policies). By the book, disciplined operations are mandatory. We must ensure the risk management process is incorporated into regulations, directions, SOPs, training plans, mission and task training.

We cannot forget about leadership, which we can define as “influencing others to accomplish a common goal.” Leaders must set these standards for safety, provide guidance for risk acceptance decisions and conduct training risk assessments. It can be deduced that safety is a result of product of proper management, training and standardization. Also, the purpose of standardization of training, along with standardization and training is to allow accomplishment of the mission (flying or other) while conserving resources. When the standards are not adhered to, leaders must take the appropriate action to expeditiously correct non-conformities with mandated standards—including work place deficiencies, and hazards—or accidents may occur.

Safety is a part of all operations and leaders, pilots and personnel and all levels must embrace safety as a principal element in all they do. Safety procedures represent a skill—a product of enforced standards and training. Safety in planning and operations is critical in any organization to preserve resources.

As an experienced military and civilian accident investigator, I can attest that a common thread runs through all of these terms—management, standardization, training, and safety. When they are not followed and practiced, unsafe acts occur that lead to accidents. This is why we ask ourselves in the safety business: “Why do pilots keep having the same accidents over and over?”

As a safety consultant, I have the opportunity to audit many operators aviation safety programs for trends, policies, command climate, leadership involvement, accident prevention programs, risk management practices, training, maintenance and standardization. Most of the companies and government agencies understand that management, standardization, training and safety go hand in glove with mission accomplishment and cannot be separated. These companies have a highly dedicated workforce and their employees feel they have “ownership of the company” and understand what they do or don’t do affect the success of their company.

I’ll further expand on this story in the September issue as I report from my trip to Robinson Helicopters in Torrance, Calif. I attended Robinson’s pilot safety course where I observed the company’s safety practices, toured the production plant, talked to pilots and employees, interviewed the leadership of the company and even had the opportunity fly the R66 and R22. Stay tuned and until then, Fly Safe!

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