Little Actions Ensure Safety On The Ramp

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

When companies take professional responsibility, the workers will do the same.


Unfortunately, there’s a big threat to all these small steps. Let’s say that thanks to a lot of little actions, big things are happening. Event rates are down. All indications are you are running a safe organization.

When the budget is threatened, however, and the safety numbers are high there may be an emerging risk – complacent management. With cost reduction in mind, your manager may require you to provide detailed justification for each of your safety interventions. Your manager might say: “It’s nice that you trained 10,000 workers on fatigue risk management. Now show me the exact safety improvement.”

You must find the numbers to answer these financial questions. The FAA Return on Investment model may help. (See “How To Prove The Value Of Safety,” Ground Support Worldwide, October 2011.)

The article describes an effective, yet easy-to-use ROI tool. To get started, go to

Work hard to quantify results, but be careful to balance the time justifying safety vs. the time implementing safety.

Let’s return to the comparison between human health and aviation safety. Overall heath comes from a combination of lifestyle decisions. Safety, in turn, comes from a combination of programs and activities. You must avoid the slippery slope of reducing interventions when the safety numbers are high. You don’t stop eating right and exercising once you are healthy.

An alternative comparison could be more business-oriented. Consider your small interventions as “internal marketing” for safety. Many who have worked in marketing have seen times when a budget reduction caused a company to cancel participation in a trade show, reduce expenses for print and media advertising, cut product offerings and other such actions.

Often it is only a short time before the sales department sees reduced leads, reduced demand and reduced sales. If reduced sales can be compared to reduced safety, you cannot afford to reduce your combination of small interventions that contribute to overall safety.

Even with extraordinary health or high safety performance, never become overconfident or complacent. One cannot be too healthy or too safe.

Dr. William Johnson has spent more than 30 years as senior executive and scientist for engineering companies specializing in technical training and human factors before joining FAA in 2004. He is also an aviation maintenance technician and has been a pilot for more than 45 years.

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