Incident Reporting... A Labour of Love or a Worthwhile Action?

By Zoe Dillon

Most people love the experience of flying but after a long, mentally tiring mission or flight the last thing any pilot needs is the dreaded administrative duties of completing and filing reports. 

That said, when it comes to safety management including hazard and incident reporting I'm sure everyone involved in aviation agrees that a few minutes spent back tracking to visualise and somehow recall an event or hazard should be a quick, efficient and easy task that's simple to report...or is it?

Replaying an event in the mind can often lead to double guessing and doubt with your imagination questioning the true event path leading to potentially inaccurate reporting. This could be detrimental to any investigation or follow up including root cause analysis, likelihood and severity of an event plus the overall impact of any follow up actions or investigations. It’s critical that in order to capture the true sequence of events, regardless of how insignificant they may appear at the time, it's the responsibility of management and the organisation to drive a positive safety culture, starting with the provision of a Company-wide Safety Management System (SMS) manual depicting and referencing policies and procedures including safety reporting guidelines. 

In regards to hazard reporting, I’m sure we subconsciously make mental notes of potential hazards in everyday life but do nothing about them. "This looks dangerous" or "that looks unsafe" are questions we unknowingly ask ourselves but should we actually have the mind set of “what if this happened?” or “what impact could that have?”. If your instinct tells you something seems dangerous or unsafe then it probably is, so why ignore it? It’s everyone’s responsibility to report and alert management of a potential hazard as multiple, seemingly insignificant smaller hazards have the potential to cluster, increasing risk and potential of a safety event occurring if not dealt with in its infancy.

In most cases, the availability of a safe and secure reporting tool aids and encourages the crew to submit hazard and safety reports. The provision of a user friendly reporting tool is important to a positive safety culture, ideally offering the user multiple reporting options on various devices and platforms such as laptop, tablet, web portal, online or offline reporting, Windows, Ios, Android plus more; all to encourage and enable a user friendly and positive safety culture ensuring accurate and real time data is submitted as quickly as possible.

By providing this tool, management effectively removes any doubt from the equation as real time reporting enables an invaluable eye witness account of an event at point of origin and in real time. This collective viewpoint in turn drives a faster response time allowing Safety and Risk Managers the ability to react to and manage follow up actions efficiently and in a timely manner. Subsequent actions could include eye witness and staff interviews, event risk assessment, root cause classifications and the instruction of further investigations where required. These tasks and actions are all critical Safety Management activities that are driven by the quality and volume of data captured and reported on any given event. This data can then be collated, sliced and analysed to determine safety event trends with the view of improving safety practises geared towards safer skies for crew, passengers and the aviation industry.

As a final thought, the next time you witness an event, regardless of how insignificant it may seem at the time, take a moment to consider the long term impact of what you've witnessed, log the event and make note of the detail by reporting it as quickly and efficiently as possible through your SMS reporting tool. In its extreme, the information you capture and report on could be the difference between life or death on future flights and missions. Help keep our skies safe by reporting events; it shouldn't be viewed as a labour of love...but recognised as a valuable worthwhile action. 

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