Little Actions Ensure Safety On The Ramp

‘Small’ programs add up to big improvements for the health and safety of ground support crews.

A safe operation is the result of many safety interventions. Compare your organizational aviation safety to human health. Doctors say we must exercise, eat the right foods in the right portions, get proper sleep, avoid too much stress, go for an annual check-up and more. These steps to good health must be combined to help ensure continuing health.

For the past six months I have written Ground Support Worldwide articles on such topics as fatigue risk management, professionalism, line operations safety audits, Safety Management Systems and how to calculate a return on safety investments. Each of these topics can have a positive impact to promote safety in your organization.

As in the personal health example, none of these topics stands alone. We must use them collectively to help ensure safety. There are many examples of small programs that add up to ensure your company’s “health.” That health can definitely be measured in safety, but also in efficiency, profit, employee satisfaction and more. Examples of these programs include the following:

  • Training
  • Voluntary Reporting And Promoting A “Safe” Culture
  • Risk Management
  • Line Operations Safety Assessment For The Ramp
  • Professional Responsibility Awareness

Let’s look at these topics with specific examples:

Training: The FAA worked with a small Miami-based MRO to deliver fatigue awareness training. Questionnaires delivered before the training, immediately after the training and, then, 90 days later were used to determine worker assessment and training impact.

Immediately after the training the workers felt that they learned a lot and liked the training. The nature of the single-shift plant with minimal overtime meant that the work schedule did not induce schedule-related fatigue.

Workers felt the training reinforced some of their positive sleep habits. Long after the training was over, workers continued to talk about fatigue issues with their peers.

In another fatigue training example, the pre- and post-tests were conducted with airline personnel. There were changes to attitude, knowledge and behavior. Here are the results six weeks after training:

  • 44 percent increased sleep by more than one hour.
  • 11 percent took naps to supplement sleep duration.
  • 55 percent reduced bad fatigue habits, such as drinking caffeine late in the day.


Voluntary Reporting And Promoting A “Safe” Culture: The push for Safety Management Systems has sensitized management and workers to recognize and report the hazards and even the many mistakes that occur daily. They know that such reports result in new programs or changes in procedures that will prevent repeated errors. A culture that encourages workers to speak up when they see hazards or make mistakes is likely a “safe” culture.

An example of successful voluntary reporting is the FAA Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP). It permits workers to report ordinary errors/mistakes without incurring the wrath of the company or the FAA. The system works. Typically, a new ASAP system receives an increasing number of reports each month, especially in the first six months. This is a sign of progress. The errors did not likely increase, but reporting those errors and, thus, promoting a safe culture definitely did.


Line Operations Safety Assessment For The Ramp: Since the dawn of civilization, workers have taught one another through cooperative work. Line Operations Safety Assessment (LOSA) is a formalized means to observe one another at work. When used properly LOSA identifies both the good and bad work practices as well as hazards. LOSA data can contribute to safety management by identifying risk early – before it becomes an event.


Professional Responsibility Awareness: Have you ever taken the time to talk with workers about professional responsibility at work? Most aviation workers strive to be professional. They understand that their jobs – at nearly every level – are critical to safety. Given the opportunity, they will wear proper uniforms at work. Given the proper education and encouragement, they will use personal protective equipment. With proper training and work schedules, they will come to work fit for duty.

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