Guest blog by Capt. Claudio Cacares Peters from Continuous Safety 

When your operations are not aligned with a clear safety policy; the ROI and your reputation will probably soon be eroded and lives are at risk as well. That is what is happening right now to one of the biggest aircraft manufacturers, lives were lost as well as assets.

During audits of normal operations, I regularly see that these 5 words for successful and safe operations are not reflected in the right order, or even worse, missing at all.

In this blog, you will learn the importance of these words: ‘safe’, ‘legal’, ‘effective’, ‘efficient’ and ‘sustainable operations’. The organization has to speak a single language that encompasses these five simple words and their order. Changing the order makes a definitive difference in the risk level outcome.

The importance of the 5 words and their order

Ideally, if you run safe, legal, effective, efficient and sustainable operations, at every single step of your operations; you are rather on the ‘diligent’ side.

What happens if your operations are trimmed to be legal rather than safe? In this case, priorities will change toward a focus on compliance rather than safety. History thought us that legal accidents still occur. Since the proactive part of the SMS is often missed, the change will also induce a huge impact on operations and on your bottom-line results (more expenses in incident and accidents).

Whenever the efficiency was positioned in front of legality and safety, the operations tend not to be safe nor legal. This is also known as ‘business as usual’.

The solution

Whenever the leadership fosters all its effort in making sure that there is only one language spoken within the organization, such behavior reinforces all the positive effects that can deliver the five words in the right order.

Leading and lagging indicators

Safety is based on fresh and recent information, thus a healthy safety reporting system will ‘grease’ the process of leading indicators. To happen, it requires an unbiased leadership endorsement. This will act as the enabler of a positive safety culture; implemented, maintained and continuously sustained by a positive safety leadership. If messengers are not inhibited, the chance that safe operations will prevail is greater.

Whenever safety reporting is inhibited, whistleblowers’ events will appear at a cost. Whistleblowers are expensive lagging indicators that go in the opposite direction and indicate that information does not permeate where it should be to be.

Whistleblowers can be also used, if intercepted on time, to start the shift back of the change/paradigm. However, these expensive events, nest when there is a safety culture that prevents and suppresses the reporting of essential safety information (which can be crucial for the maintenance of the above-described policy).

Other players that need to speak the same language

In organizations we encounter two other players during audits, who whenever not aligned, can lead to hazardous situations. These players often speak their own language: HR and Marketing Departments. Naturally, they have a different agenda and often can voluntarily or not collide with the above-mentioned policy.

Since HR and Marketing are often perceived as a priority, it is normal to see them positioned in better shape than operations and training, except in generative organizations. They can sharply influence the leadership’s decision process in the wrong direction or against safety.

Finally, if the COO (Chief Operating Officer) keeps speaking a different language, he or she can also deviate their own contribution to the safety of operations.

In the normal world, it is easy to see who sets safety programs and how COOs perceive them sometimes as opportunities and very often just as a waste of their resources.

Open the path to diligence

Keeping aligned with the five words will open the path for diligent operations, a good ROI as well as stakeholder and shareholder satisfaction

Learn more about this subject? Contact Capt. Claudio Daniel Caceres Peters, from Continuous Safety.