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Understanding How Humans Influence Safety Culture

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


CHC Helicopter’s Asia Pacific region is helping to shape how the business integrates Human Factors and Just Culture into our global safety management system, helping to reduce risk, reinforce personal accountability and improve transparency.

Aviation is an inherently safe industry yet the quest to improve safety, efficiency, performance, and reliability never ends. It is this ceaseless search for continuous improvement that underpins CHC Helicopter’s safety culture; a culture enshrined in our Taking Care program.

Taking Care of our employees, our passengers, our aircraft and our environment requires a global commitment to the highest standards of safety in a shifting regulatory environment frequently influenced by evolving technology.

Industry research indicates that human error remains a contributing factor in up to 75% of all aviation accidents and incidents. Understanding the psychology and external factors behind this trend remains a priority area for the entire industry. As a result, extensive research has been conducted into why accidents happen, from the analysis and subsequent identification of latent errors and gaps in existing safety management systems to better understanding their influences on human behavior in the workplace.

That research, which builds on James Reason's pioneering model of latent and active failures, has led to the development of a Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS). The system, developed by human factors specialists Doug Wiegmann and Scott Shappell, is now widely deployed across the aviation industry.

“Both Doug and Scott have actively supported CHC’s annual Safety and Quality Summit over recent years, presenting on human factors,” explains Liam Tutin, Head of Safety & Quality Asia Pacific and Latin America. “Their work has led to the development of a fundamental understanding into how organizations can influence – both positively and negatively – safety culture and why errors still occur.”

HFACS has been a part of CHC’s safety management system for some time but there is always a need to refresh understanding and strengthen the use of the HFACS principles; this refresh process was formally kicked off for CHC’s Asia Pacific (APAC) region during a two day seminar on 6-7 March 2018 in Perth, Australia. The regional senior leadership team, front line managers, the Safety & Quality team as well as customer representatives came together to explore human factors and how it impacts on organizational safety.

“Training was led by Doug Wiegmann, split over two distinct themes,” added Liam. “Day one was spent looking in detail at the HFACS methodology and how it can be used to improve root cause investigations. Day two saw attendees examining case studies to help gain a practical understanding of how HFACS can be used at an organizational level to identify and correct latent system failures or weaknesses.

“We also used the second day to look at Just Culture, especially understanding exactly what it means and how it is applied. Delegates had the opportunity to discuss real-life experiences and operational challenges surrounding Just Culture, helping to shape a CHC vision of acceptable behavior and ultimately helping to improve openness and transparency – areas in which CHC is already valued by our customers.”

Sharing the lessons
Following the two days, Liam explains the APAC region is now working closely with colleagues across Europe, Middle East and Africa, to share knowledge and expertise as the Safety & Quality team progress the deeper integration of HFACS into CHC’s root cause investigation program.

“As we further align our processes with the recommended HFACS methodology we will be introducing analytics into our investigations, feedback from which will be passed to management to reinforce the role those in supervisory roles play in supporting a safe and just culture.”

HFACS is another example of how CHC is striving to improve our ever maturing safety management system.

“When it comes to human factors, and other behavioral-based initiatives such as Line Operations Safety Audits (LOSA), CHC is fully committed to learning from the wider industry, and where possible feeding those lessons back to other operators through HeliOffshore.”

As the understanding of Human Factors and Just Culture continues to be further embedded across APAC throughout 2018, work is already underway to cascade that knowledge across the global business through part of our Taking Care safety program, helping to establish a standardized CHC approach to the integration of human factors in our safety management system. By improving our understanding of how humans can be safely and efficiently integrated with today’s evolving technological and regulatory framework, CHC will have the ability to not only improve safety, but also refine our training, policies and procedures to help our people perform better.