Communication consultation and promotion
Two way communication is critical not only for the SMS to be effective, but for the safety culture of an organisation to grow. Staff must feel empowered to contribute to the SMS and management must use the SMS 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
- Providing feedback to staff on accident and incident reports made by personnel.
The last dot point is important. If feedback on staff reports is not provided, reporting will cease.
General safety meetings
Safety meetings provide the opportunity for valuable two-way, face to face, safety communication. The logistics of conducting safety meetings in the modern work environment can be challenging. Multiple worksite locations, rostered workforce and personnel availability are all barriers to consistent and standardised safety communication.
How this is managed comes down to the initiative of those responsible for the management of safety. Video conferencing, telephone call-ins, emails and other multimedia platforms are tools available.
The promotion of safety
The communication of safety begins even before the SMS is implemented. Both formal and informal communications contribute to staff awareness and empowerment.
There are many means of safety communication depending on the size, complexity and nature of operations.
Common methods include:
- Safety bulletins and notices
- 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 has not yet matured 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.
CAA New Zealand provide an equivalent magazine for NZ flight safety issues called Vector.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has a wide range of both aviation safety publications and reports. The search functions allow for specific targeting of safety topics, environments and operations.
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.
Click on the above images to link to these publications.
These resources provide significant safety information for communication to staff. The SM should not only be familiar with the content of these resources, but should also encourage and disseminate resources amongst staff for their consideration.
Numerous other government agencies (FAA, EASA, CAA NZ, Transport Canada etc) provide significant safety communication material. Non-government sources, such as Skybrary, also have a wealth of information.