Let’s face it, no one sets out to have an accident do they? However, accidents do happen. We can’t predict where or when they will happen but inevitably they will. Just imagine the conversation though if we could predict them – “sorry, can’t come to work today – there is a very real risk of me being involved in a serious accident”.
Of course, that is a completely unrealistic view. Accidents can’t be predicted but in many cases they are preventable. So how do we prevent?
Well, we learn from our mistakes. At a simple level, humans all learn from mistakes made – we learn that at a young age and in the most part, that adage will remain with us throughout our lives. To take that further, on a larger scale, root cause analysis of an accident allows for preventive measures to be put in place.
Root cause analysis has played a key role in shaping many safety management plans and systems, helping us fully understand what has happened before we put measures in place to ensure it won’t happen again. This doesn’t mean we can eliminate all threats of accidents. There will continue to be instances where preventive measures don't go far enough, or a new root cause can occur that's yet to be identified.
In aviation, safety management focuses on preventive measures. An SMS should include tools for hazard identification and risk management and there should also be a culture that encourages reporting. By this we mean reporting of observations that can aid change management and improvement.
The benefits associated with having a robust SMS centred on preventive measures go beyond merely being safe (as important as that is). The benefits to the business include enhanced reputation and reduced insurance premiums as a result of being able to demonstrate that the organisation is in control of their risks.