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EHSQ Professional’s Voice: Understanding How Thought Processes Impact Safety

Tamara Parris

This month Community Member, and Aviation Professional, Kamran Akhavan Attari, lead our discussion on Understanding How Thought Processes Impact Safety. He discussed increasing organizational awareness of workplace safety and the risk to business when safety is not part of thought process. Here is a brief recap of what Kamran, and our EHSQ Community members discussed during the open discussion.

We invite you to view the Recording of the Live Member Open Discussion which inspired this month’s Learning’s from Safety Professionals post; “link to recording here”.

To begin our discussion, we shared our observations that too many organizations tend to spend their resources on compliancy efforts when it comes to workplace safety. Members have noticed the core focus is often in the area of enforcing procedures and polices.

Kamran shared a few of his own workplace experiences, within the aviation industry. During the discussion, we learned from him that he has found many infrastructures and resources for safety practices within this industry.

A few mentioned examples where:

1. Safety materials such as; safety regulations (standards and recommendations), and safety procedures

2. Facilities or new technologies such as; Runway Rubber Removal vehicles, Runway Surface Movement Radar, Bird Strike Avoiding System, FOD/Obstacle Avoiding System etc.

Kamran further shared how he had observed that despite the materials and facilities available, they still experienced an increase in the number of accidents and significant incidents. This was a rising concern for him, enough to believe it would be a good subject to analyze and investigate further.

He started with three assumptions:

  1. The safety materials have not been written properly.
  2. Their operational personals were not doing their jobs accordingly.
  3. There was a gap in the front-end users knowledge of how to use new technologies.

After his investigation he found several latent conditions, and contributing factors he believed had a correlation.

In relation to Safety materials, Kamran learned that a vast majority of parts, of the safety standards and recommendations, were produced using a copy-pasted method. Many of the written materials were in the English language, despite the fact that many operational personnel and decision makers were not enough proficient in English. It became clearer to Kamran, the real cause for concern related to the fact that the safety standards and recommendations were not understandable to their employees. This meant often they would need another person to help interpret them.

When Kamran turned his attention to investigating the concerns related to usage of new technologies and facilities, he uncovered there was a lack of knowledge to utilize them properly.

He also learned their Senior managers, of the service providers, were open to buying more equipment, and new technologies because the assumption was this would guarantee safety. The more, the better. Unfortunately, the management team had not allocated resources for the necessary training and education.

What we came to understand, from this sessions learns was, although the safety material was available it had not been provided in a language that made the knowledge accessible to all personnel equitably. This lack of proper content  and training could be a major contributor to the unsafe behaviors resulting in the increasing number of accidents and significantly incidents. That in fact, there is a deeper layer here to consider. The production of content is rooted in intellectuality, there is a requirement by the executing professional to think about the end user and the barriers they might face with the communication channel we choose to distribute our safety content through.

In such circumstances, an official report is prepared about why the airport's SMS does not work. This is when our member's a research paper titled “Cognition and Safety” was developed and the birth of his S=fc²

formula. S=fc² > Safety is equal to facilities multiplied by the cognitive aspects of culture squared.

This is an important piece Kamran believes is missing in our safety professional practices because within a pathological organizational culture, several elements are typical found. This often includes individuals who are in charge, wanting to show everything is alright in their area of responsibilities. This often results with the reporting of any malfunctioning or shortcoming being not allowed, and the reporter will be punished badly.

The result is documentation that includes any kind of analysis; trend analysis, root cause analysis. Risk assessment are influenced negatively within a corporate culture that uses this approach.

Kamran also learned, senior management did want to show there was improvement and progression because they believed it proved their commitment to safety of their operational areas. They tried to achieve this through tangible objects however fell short because they had not considered a basic criteria.

Our core learning from this portion of the group discussion, do not overlooked the language needs of your personnel when preparing their worksite safety content material. 

October 26, 2017 @ 05:00 PM EDT Airlines Environment, Health & Safety

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