Safety manager offers tips for ground handling operations
BY Monica L. Rausch, Associate Editor
January / February 1999
ATLANTA, GA — An employer, whether it be a private company or airport management, has a duty to properly train its employees, according to Patrick Karol, corporate safety manager for Delta Air Lines.
Karol addressed training ground support equipment handlers during a presentation here for attendees at inter airport, an international trade show highlighting ground support equipment Karol gave managers tips on how to create a training program and how to ensure that it works.
Management should first establish a list of procedures on which all training can be based, says Karol. Employers should also identify and prepare instructors who have prior on-the-job experience, hold credibility with the employees, have an interest and an understanding of the procedures, and believe that training can help achieve an efficient operation.
Training should typically include a technical, hands-on portion and a section on the theory behind the procedures, Karol notes.
At Delta, emphases in training include harboring a "safety culture" and building "team resource management," says Karol. For its ramp employees, the company took cockpit resource management training and adapted it for the ramp environment. Topics include communication, workload management, situational awareness, customer service, time management, crew coordination, decisionmaking, and planning.
Training should address specific goals, says Karol, such as the goal to educate or to motivate. The instructional process should also be planned. "Content is important, but it's not enough," notes Karol. "Training must be interactive."
Delta's employees practice using container loaders on simulators of jet cargo and passenger doors.
The most important part of training, says Karol, is ensuring that it works, that employees are using what they have learned. Operators should have some type of process in place to measure the effectiveness of their training and be able to change or improve training based on their findings.
At Delta, training is behavior-based and employees use an observation-feedback process to calibrate how effective training is, says Karol.
"Basically what we do is we identify certain elements of the training process that we want to observe ... and we observe that person who's been through the training process, and in that way we can get an accurate gage on how effective the training really was," says Karol.
Delta's ramp supervisors are taught how to conduct observations, give feedback, and coach, and are also tasked with creating their own training checklists based on the critical behaviors they observe at their stations and any past incidents or injuries. These lists can change monthly, notes Karol, depending on what behaviors are corrected and what new behaviors arise.