Safety policy

Every organisation should have a formal statement of its safety policy. The safety policy defines the overall objectives and practices of an organisation as regards safety. The safety policy describes the organisation's fundamental approach for managing safety and the basic principles of the organisation's safety management program.

The organisation's safety policy should be communicated and cascaded down to all employees by the highest levels of management: this helps create a "organisation safety culture" by sending the message that every person in the organisation is expected to make a commitment to safety. If top management takes safety seriously, employees will be more likely to do the same.

The safety department

The safety function should be independent of the operations, engineering and training departments. The safety manager should report directly to the top manager. This will ensure that decision-makers receive information about safety issues that is not compromised by operational or financial concerns. This top-level reporting structure will also ensure that genuine attention is given to safety issues by those ultimately accountable for the safety.

The people involvement

Safety is a direct result of the competence, skills, experience and motivation of people. It is essential that people are adequately trained, motivated and competent for the safety-related activities they have to perform. People need also to be aware of the significant impact of their activities on safety (actual or potential), the benefits of improved personal performances, and the potential consequences of departure from specified practices. The management should encourage and stimulate employee feedback on safety issues: people should be directly involved in safety improvement activities.

Incident Data

Many ATM organisations have found that an internal confidential incident-reporting system sheds light on "latent" or hidden safety problems. Without a proactive incident reporting system, these latent problems can go undetected until they contribute to an incident or an accident. For such a system to be effective, management must make clear to employees that reported information will be used only in a constructive and non punitive way. Additionally, establishing an internal data base of incident and accident data can provide a basis for avoiding similar events in the future and can enormously useful in spotting safety-related trends.

Safety impact of changes to the ATM system

ATM is facing many changes: new concepts and systems are expected to contribute significantly to safety improvements, as well as to help in resolving problems such as capacity limitations. The impacts of these changes need to be assessed and appropriate enhancements of the system need to be planned and implemented.

Effective communication

Communicate safety information to the entire organisation, in as many ways possible (for example, through safety reports, newsletters and employee meetings and briefings).

Identification of problems is meaningless unless employees know about them. Moreover, dissemination of positive safety news can reinforce the "emphasis-on-safety" message that top management has created to enable safety conscious employees to know that their efforts are successful.

Effectiveness of the Safety Management Programme

It is necessary to survey the operations, maintenance, development and training functions to ensure that safety is a top priority. It is neither reasonable nor realistic to assume that every element of the ATM system will never fail. One must monitor the safety performances of these elements for ensuring that the current safety level is maintained. When deficiencies are noted, the emphasis should be on correcting the problem, not assigning blame.