Safety Culture

How to improve and secure your safety culture?

Evaluation and the development of an organisation’s safety culture is the next step in the improvement of aviation safety. The full advantage and benefits of safety improvement programmes are assured and secured in a sound and mature safety culture.

NLR's Aviation Safety Culture Inquiry Tool (ASC-IT) enables all sectors in the aviation industry to understand, survey, assess, manage and improve their safety culture. ASC-IT provides a safety culture framework selected as the best practice for safety culture assessments by the European Strategic Safety Initiative (ESSI). ESSI represents Europe's main stakeholders for its aviation industry, such as EASA, IATA, Airbus, EUROCONTROL.

An ASC-IT controlled safety culture assessment will not only highlight potential differences in safety culture between target groups, but will also identify improvement areas and indicate which barriers exist that hamper the effectiveness of safety improvement programmes. Finally, by using ASC-IT, organisations have the possibility to benchmark their safety culture and to monitor safety improvements. NLR-ATSI, the owner of ASC-IT, offers an aftercare programme to take full advantage of the ASC-IT post evaluation analysis and recommended actions for the improvement of the safety culture.

What our customers say:
"I believe this survey will bring about good discussion and action to improve our already fine safety culture."
"I think this survey is a great way to remain focussed on building and ingraining a safety culture. I would be very pleased to read and review the results in due course."
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ASC-IT's primary goal

The primary goal of ASC-IT is to make an organisation's safety culture transparent, to identify strong and weak elements of the current safety culture, and thereby to provide opportunities for improvement. An ASC-IT safety culture assessment will not only provide detailed insight in the safety culture of the organisation as a whole, but also highlight differences in perceptions about safety culture between different parts of the organisation, for example between Management and Operational levels, between departments, or between subsidiaries. Also, and perhaps even more importantly, the use of the Safety Culture framework on which ASC-IT is built, reveals the causal and circumstantial factors underlying the various Safety Culture maturity scores found. This detailed level of insight and understanding is necessary to be able to formulate and successfully implement specific and well-focused improvement measures and to be able to monitor their impact in a meaningful way.

Because ASC-IT assessments have already been conducted at a range of aviation organisations, ASC-IT provides the ability to benchmark safety cultures against that of similar organisations not only at an overall maturity level, but also at the level of the underlying safety culture characteristics and indicators. ASC-IT's international track record includes several (flag carrier) airlines, Business Aircraft Operators, helicopter operators, airports, multinational and local Ground Service Providers, Maintenance and Repair Organisations, Cargo Handlers, Civil Aviation Authorities and is also extending its reach to Healthcare organisations and construction firms.

Added value

ASC-IT provides a large number of distinguishing features:

+ Ease of use and high quality are the connecting thread in the implementation and use of ASC-IT. It follows an easy approach, comprised of an online survey linked to an advisory process.

+ With as much as 21 indicators, a detailed assessment is made of the perceptions about the current safety culture of the organisation as a whole and of specific departments or target groups.

+ The perceptions are assessed anonymously at the individual level. This makes the results less susceptible to group- or performance pressure from the team or department. The effort to participate is small; employees are not assigned to additional, time consuming tasks.

+ ASC-IT provides the safety culture maturity at several levels: for the organisation as a whole, for each department/team/location/target group, and for each safety culture characteristic and indicator. This enables internal comparisons, but also creates benchmarking opportunities.

+ For each target group, potential safety culture weaknesses are identified. In an aftercare programme, in consultation with the target group, interventions may be developed to improve the safety culture.

+ Since ASC-IT is applied organisation-wide and across departments, potential differences in safety culture perceptions between departments/target groups are identified, enabling the development of specific, targeted interventions. This creates a single, mature safety culture, in which for example employees address each other's behaviour.

+ ASC-IT uses a top-down and bottom-up approach. Top-down to prevent that safety culture weaknesses are overlooked and to ensure that responsibilities for interventions are assigned to people who decide about budget and resources. Bottom-up to ensure that employees are involved in developing interventions that are both relevant and tailored to the target group, thereby gaining more support for their implementation.

+ The integral ASC-IT approach (the safety culture framework) describes the relation between the various safety culture characteristics, resulting in effective, well-prioritised inventions.

+ The ASC-IT analysis may be related to elements of Safety Management Systems, with the potential to increase their effectiveness. ASC-IT complements information contained in Safety Management Systems, which provides additional insights leading to an in-depth understanding of your safety culture.

+ ASC-IT is applied and analysed by specialists in the fields of safety culture and safety management. Their experience provides added value in the potential development and support of safety culture interventions.

+ Frequent ASC-IT safety culture assessments, for example once a year, have the advantage that trends in safety culture may be identified and that the effectiveness of safety culture interventions may be verified.

Safety Culture survey project outline

As part of our safety culture services we use the Aviation Safety Culture Inquiry Tool ASC-IT.

The primary goal of ASC-IT is to make an organizationís safety culture transparent, to identify strong and weak elements of the current safety culture, and thereby to provide opportunities for improvement. By means of horizontal and vertical analyses, an ASC-IT safety culture assessment will not only provide detailed insight in the safety culture of the organization as a whole, but also highlight differences in perceptions about safety culture between different parts of the organization, for example between management and the operational levels.

Safety culture framework

ASC-IT uses a common safety culture framework which is recognisable for all actors in the aviation industry. To support the assessment and management of safety culture, 6 main characteristics of safety culture have been defined. These 6 characteristics represent the cornerstones on which an organisation's safety culture is built. To enable a wide spectrum analysis with detailed recommendations for improvement areas, these 6 characteristics are further broken down into 21 topics, called safety culture indicators.

Safety Culture surveys with ground handlers

Human factors have been identified by the European Commercial Aviation Safety Team (ECAST) as a ground safety issue for which safety enhancement action plans have to be developed.

NLR-ATSI performs research on human factors in ground handling under the authority of the ECAST, in cooperation with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Netherlands. The results provide a basis for recommendations to the participating Ground Service Providers (GSP) and the European aviation industry.

The objective of the research is to investigate the causal factors which lead to human errors during the ground handling process, creating unsafe situations, personal accidents or incidents. In order to investigate these topics of interest, the input of ground handling personnel is extremely valuable. Therefore, cooperation has been sought and found with several GSPs.

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