Safety Is Not A Game: Because the price of losing is too high

July 1, 1999

Safety Is Not A Game

Because the price of losing is too high

By Richard Komarniski

July 1999

Richard Komarniski is President of Grey Owl Aviation Consultants. He has worked as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician for the last 23 years holding AME and A&P Ratings. Richard has been providing Human Factors Training to various aviation maintenance departments. For information on Human Factors training or assistance in setting up a MRM Program contact Grey Owl Aviation Consultants, Box 233, Onanole, Manitoba ROJ 1NO Canada, telephone (204) 848-7353, or fax (204) 848-4605, or [email protected].

Last month, the Magnificent Seven posters were discussed as a tool to help improve human factors awareness by focusing on positive actions that every employee can take to help improve safety and reduce human errors. These posters also place an emphasis on professionalism within the aviation maintenance community. The following article is the first in a series of articles, each of which discusses one of the Magnificent Seven topics.

As the first poster from the Magnificent Seven series illustrates, within an organization in this industry, we have many departments — all with their own agendas. For example, the management and financial departments are concerned about the bottom line profit. The flight crews' goal is to operate the aircraft on a schedule to please the customer. And, the maintenance department's goal is to provide a safe, airworthy aircraft for the crew and its passengers.

The company's goals, in order of priority, should be:

1. Safety
2. Schedule
3. Passengers
4. Finances.

If safety, schedule, and passengers are the first priorities within the company's "goals" and also in that order, then the company will have longevity and profits. If profit becomes a higher priority goal than safety, schedule, and passengers, the company will suffer a demise with the only questions remaining being how quickly will the accidents occur, and how often can they be expected? This has been proven over and over throughout the history of this industry.

The primary goal of the maintenance department is safety and quality. There can be no compromise on this, at any cost. If safety and quality are compromised in order to meet pressing schedule constraints, for example, the fact that the schedule was met will be long forgotten when the aircraft or aircraft system fails and causes an incident or accident. This principle applies in the airline, repair station, aircraft manufacture, engine overhaul, or any other overhaul shop — safety and quality cannot be comprised.

There is nothing more enjoyable than working for an organization when safety and quality are not compromised. Typical characteristics of such an organization include:

• On-the-job injuries are reduced
• The quality and reliability of the work performed is excellent
• Everyone's self-esteem is very positive and organizational morale is elevated
• Customer satisfaction is high because the aircraft in which they are flying are meeting schedules, are clean, and are comfortable

There is nothing more frustrating than working in an environment where safety and quality are being compromised. Attitudes are bad, morale is low, fellow workers are being hurt on the job, and people are defensive. The employees have to ask themselves "Do I want to be there when the major accident happens?"

If we compromise our standards and deviate from our goals for improved safety, it can only be because we have lost sight of all of the negative things that happen to an organization after a major incident or accident. You do not want to experience this environment.

Having a clear and concise goal regarding safety and quality contained in a mission statement will help to ensure that standards are maintained and that safety and quality are the first priority. A mission statement provides a basis for coordinating the work to be accomplished. It helps to maximize the time and energy spent on routine endeavors by identifying the scope of the organization's activities.

The mission statement should not only reflect the goal, but the process for achieving the goal. It should state not only "what we do," but "how we will do it." It should invoke ownership and pride. The mission statement should appeal to the passion in each of us — the reason we came to, and remain in this business. I believe most of us do bring pride and passion to our work, and when we are given absolutely clear direction by someone who trusts us enough to do the job (who gives us "ownership"), we create positive environments that leave little room for cynicism.

Once your mission statement has been established, it is everyone's role to recognize that the mission statement creates a solid foundation to:

• Recognize that it will involve change
• Have the proper positive, safety first attitude
• Maintain the proper discipline
• Be a team player.....