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  • Writer's pictureDon Baldwin

Getting to Zero One Report at a Time

Updated: Feb 20

Recently, our company marked four million filed reports within our Safety Management System (SMS), it gave me cause to reflect. Ironically, when I look at that large number, I see how it has a direct effect on getting to zero.

Promoting Safety and Preventing Accidents In the world of safety management, the goal is zero accidents and incidents. The “Zero Accident Vision” proposes that all (serious) accidents can be prevented. It suggests this vision can be attained by learning from previous accidents and improving processes and attitudes.

While zero may seem an elusive and unreachable goal, improvements in processes and attitudes can prevent accidents and generate a positive culture of safety within an organization if everyone participates.

We know this because the information generated from our four million filed reports—over 220 million individual data points—identifies improved safety metrics for engaged organizations. When it comes to measuring SMS engagement in an organization, the quality and number of reports is very insightful into the safety culture. This is one objective measurement that can be visualized in an organization.

Whether it is a Flight Risk Assessment, Maintenance Risk Assessment, Safety Report, Internal Audit form, Change Management form, Accident/Incident Report, UAS Form, OSHA Audit, or ASAP form, each submitted report contributes data to develop and maintain a well-rounded Safety Management System (SMS).

Strong Safety Culture and Reporting Documentation and measurement through report filing is at the center of an SMS. However, a sound SMS is built on more than report filing alone. It takes all four components working interdependently: safety policy and objectives, safety risk management, safety assurance and safety promotion.

The most engaged organizations have the support of management. This involves key personnel getting involved and finding ways to let the team know they recognize the importance of the work they do with regard to safety.

Many times, the day-to-day effort of report filing may not be a priority for everyone. Ultimately, team members at every level must see the information gained through reports being used. Identifying even the smallest safety-related issue builds a bigger picture of an organization’s safety culture. The data collected has a direct effect, not just on the number of accidents, but on building a positive safety culture and preventing accidents and incidents.

A strong safety culture is clearly seen in the care the individuals have for one another. When leadership makes people a priority, it creates an environment where everyone strives to do their best for the good of the team. We could say that they are truly engaged. And engagement is vital.

Reports as Fuel for Improvement Ultimately, the crux of a safety management system is people providing information to leadership about what they are encountering in daily operations on the frontline. How? Through reports. Reports provide data that is searchable, trackable and reportable. The data extracted allows for identification of emerging hazards and the ability to monitor risk controls and identify where controls may be failing.

So, if engagement is key, how do we encourage it? One theory states that the incentive for an individual to do any task correlates with the value of the reward or outcome of the task. If the task is submitting a report and the outcome is improving safety by making leadership aware of safety concerns, then individuals need to be convinced leadership is taking their reporting seriously.

Within our organization, the 4-million-reports milestone helped our team galvanize efforts and consider new ways to help our clients get to zero. At our annual employee retreat, our team reflected on how far we have come in developing scalable and customizable online safety solutions.

What percolated up from the retreat’s discussions and goal-setting sessions was opportunities to better support our clients in engaging their safety program. Our team is working to ensure that everyone goes home at the end of the workday.

In the meantime, pilots, maintenance technicians, frontline staff, managers, directors and safety enthusiasts have continued to file reports. I imagine that the next milestone will take less time to reach, and we’ll be closer to zero when we get there.

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