Two way communication is critical not only for the SMS to be effective, but for the safety culture of an organisation to grow. The key is two way communication. Staff must feel empowered to contribute to the SMS and management must use it to provide information to staff. The minimum safety communication expected would be;
- ensuring staff are fully aware of SMS processes and function
- conveying safety critical information to all personnel
- explaining reasons for management decisions on safety issues
- explaining safety procedures, or changes to them and why
- provide feedback to staff on accidents, incidents or reports made by personnel
The final point is important. If staff feel they are reporting for the sake of it, and no action is being taken, reporting will cease.
The promotion of safety
The communication of safety begins even before the SMS is implemented, right back when management make the announcement that an SMS is inbound. That might have occurred at the company BBQ. After this, staff should expect constant updates on progress.
Means of safety communication are many and varied depending on the size, complexity and nature of operations. Common methods include;
- Safety bulletins and notices – perhaps on a safety notice board
- magazines or posters in critical areas
- audio visual presentations
- all staff newsletters
- briefings and toolbox meetings
- seminars and workshops
- safety stand down days
- internet, emails or intranet
- training events
Safety communication needs to be coordinated through the SM, who may delegate the delivery, but not the responsibility. It must be meaningful, regular, targeted when required and expected. The ideal statements to be heard in an advanced safety culture is, ‘hey when is the next crash comic due out?‘ or, ‘we should raise this as a topic at the next safety day we have...’
External safety communication resources
There are many external resources available to an organisation for safety communication. These should be utilised if an organisation is small, non-complex, or perhaps not yet mature in the Safety Promotion of SMS.
CASA provides excellent resources for safety promotion. Notably the quarterly magazine Flight Safety Australia. This online resource can also be printed for specific articles of note.Link to CASA Flight Safety Australia
CAA NZ provides excellent resources for safety promotion. Notably the quarterly magazine Vector.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) have a wide range of both aviation safety publications and reports. The search functions allow for specific targeting of safety topics, environments and operations.Link to ATSB Aviation Safety
Airservices Australia publish a wide range of safety publications, statistics and research information. Regular safety bulletins cover a wide range of relevant aviation safety topics
These resources provide significant safety information for communication to staff. The SM should not only be familiar with the content of these resources, it should be encouraged and disseminated amongst staff for their consideration as well.
Numerous other government agencies (FAA, EASA , CAA NZ, Transport Canada etc) provide a huge amount of safety communication material. Non-government sources such as Skybrary also have a wealth of information