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Taking Care promotes personal accountability

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


CHC Helicopter’s annual Safety and Quality Summit brings together operators, safety organisations, universities, OEMs, insurance/underwriting representatives and other experts from around the world, all with the aim of advancing safety in the aviation industry. Last year’s summit, held in Dallas, Texas, saw more than 500 delegates sharing knowledge and best practice through plenary sessions and workshops over three days. It also gave a global platform for the launch of CHC’s new behavioural safety programme – Taking Care.

Taking Care reflects CHC’s commitment to ‘reach beyond’ when it comes to safety. Every member of our team, from flight crew to corporate staff, plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of people, property, and the environments in which we operate.

“Taking Care is about taking care of yourself; of your teammates; of our passengers; of our aircraft. It’s also about taking care of our business,” explains Duncan Trapp, VP Safety & Quality.

By formalising this long-held ethos and emphasising the importance of personal responsibility in nurturing and reinforcing a robust safety culture, the programme underpins everything CHC does, every day, across our global operations.

“In early 2017, the entire CHC business came together to work on a truly collaborative, robust safety program that focussed on the areas we thought most important,” explains Duncan. “Industry-leading safety systems were already in place and captured in our integrated safety management system, but how and where could improvements be made? We took a systematic approach to safety, looking at every aspect of our operations from the airborne environment; the hangar environment; ramp operations, as well as personal safety.”

A series of 15 initiatives were identified encompassing safety leadership, compliance, airborne operations, ground operations and overall safety culture.

“As part of our work around leadership and compliance we’ve overhauled the safety training we provide to people throughout their CHC career, from induction training to how we support employees as they develop,” adds Duncan. “How do we prepare people for taking on greater accountability? Historically, people would be selected largely due to their professional skill sets and experience. However, what does that actually mean for the individual? Do they have the necessary tools in their back pocket to be able to do the job appropriately from a safety and quality perspective? Through new standardised training plans, we can now provide that lifelong support, with additional training focused on safety and just culture.

“Specialist training is also being provided to a large cross section of supervisors and managers, helping them to understand how human factors can impact upon individuals, teams and the wider business.”

In the air, continued investment in flight safety, through the adoption of Line Operations Safety Audits (LOSA) and ongoing research into enhanced flight data monitoring (FDM), is helping to identify improvements in both human and procedural performance.

Maintenance tasks have also been standardised across our global fleets, greatly aiding compliance and monitoring. “While LOSA looks at the behaviours of aircrew during normal flights, we are strengthening the way we carry out similar checks on the ground, through anonymised observations of common maintenance tasks to help understand the challenges our teams have and how we can fix them,” adds Duncan. “Ground operations are also being looked at with revamped training programmes and a focus on reducing loss time injuries through personal risk taking – such as incorrect lifting.”

Leading up to the programme’s launch, CHC’s entire integrated safety management system was reviewed and revised to reflect the latest thinking in safety and to ensure all language is fully aligned with the Taking Care ethos.

“The Safety and Quality Summit provided a soft launch for the initiative, however as 2018 progresses we’ll be seeing lots more activity across our teams as we continue to embed Taking Care at every level of our operations,” says Duncan. “An extensive events programme, featuring town hall meetings, global leader briefings and safety stand downs has been planned and is already underway.

“Strengthening safety culture in the way people conduct themselves and why they perform certain tasks, is an ongoing commitment. This is a long-term programme, designed to underpin the future sustainability of the business. Regular feedback via project champions, will ensure senior leadership are able to monitor Taking Care’s progress and identify any gaps.”

Local accountability

Taking Care might be a safety programme, but it’s not owned by CHC’s Safety and Quality department. This is an initiative owned by the entire business, especially base leadership. In fact, local and personal accountability lies at the heart of Taking Care’s core safety message.

Located 1,100 nm north of Perth, on Western Australia’s Dampier Peninsula, lies CHC’s base at Broome. The Sikorsky S-92 heliport serves Shell’s Prelude project, currently under construction 256 nm to the northwest of the base. In addition to providing up to six flights per day, the base provides full engineering facilities encompassing daily and major base maintenance.

Although a popular tourist spot, Broome is a remote and expensive place to reach. CHC’s team members work 15 days on and 13 days off, but the costs of travel mean that it’s difficult to have family join them. As a result, the base is a tightly knit community and the need to take care of one another is keenly felt by all.

A typical round trip flight to Prelude takes up to six hours, requiring aircraft to make a fuel stop at a remote location in Djarindjin Community, approximately 100 nm north of Broome. Due to the flight distance and safety requirements that require aircraft to be overland at least 90 minutes before last light, it means an early start for the Broome team. With a busy flight schedule that starts with flight planning around 4 a.m. and base maintenance activities often continuing up to midnight in order to prepare the aircraft for the following day, the base is almost a 24-hour operation.

“Safety is of paramount importance in everything we do,” adds Dave Irvine, Broome Base Manager. “We work very closely with Shell, collaborating to see how our safety programmes can dovetail with the client’s own initiatives such as Shell’s ‘Goal Zero’ programme."

In April 2018, Broome will also commence the roll out of LOSA across flight operations. The programme will complement innovative safety work already delivered at the base. “We were also recently heavily involved in the development of a new risk management tool, known internally as Bow Tie,” adds Dave.

Bow Tie provides an intuitive visual representation of the hazards and safety barriers associated with any given activity, such as flight operations. It identifies the barriers in place to ensure the aircraft remains separated from any identified risks. The system has been live for 18-months and is generating great buy-in from people on the front line. It gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to CHC’s safety system, where they see improvements could be made.

As Dave points out, aviation is an inherently safe industry: “We have duplication everywhere: in our safety inspections for example. Our twin-engined aircraft fly with two pilots. You generally have back-ups and redundancy in everything we do.”

“That said, you can have all the safety processes and protocols in the world, but if the culture doesn’t exist to abide by them, then they quickly become weakened. That’s why Taking Care plays such an important role at the core of our safety culture. It builds the necessary mindset where everybody wants to take extra care; take the extra time and never feel pressured to put the operation before safety. That message is fully endorsed by senior leadership and I pass that on to my team.”