Speaker: Ben Thomson, Safety Manager, Flight Academy Australia
When a company is small and risks are high
In a refreshing change, we heard about a specific industry this month when Ben Thomson from Flight Academy Australia presented to us. While it was fascinating in itself to learn more about the subject of aviation safety, it was inspiring to learn about ways of instilling a better safety culture into smaller organisations more generally.
Ben began by giving a brief overview of the evolution of safety approaches. It was interesting to see how it began with "airmanship", which focussed on the individual, and gradually evolved to the holistic approach of a full-blown safety management system that they have today, where the focus is on the culture.
Ben outlined some new thinking into the 5 ingredients of an effective safety culture that are really useful for all organisations, no matter the size. The one that resonated most with us was the concept of a Just Culture and Ben delved into that, particularly in relation to incident reporting. One of the main challenges is encouraging people to admit when they've made a mistake, because it is counterintuitive for people to do so. The way an organistaion responds has an effect on the value that can be derived from reporting.
Another challenge with reporting is if the process to do so is overly complicated: while it's important to document incidents, it shouldn't be too onerous for the person reporting. This put me in mind of a great presentation a few years ago from David Provan about Safety Clutter, which complements Ben Thomson's advice for smaller organisations. Financial members can access it here.
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