Hi everyone. It’s time for the Spring Technical Operations Safety Stand Down. It starts this Sunday, April 24 and runs until May 7. Held twice a year, we defer all non-essential maintenance so that Technical Operations managers, employees and union representatives can openly discuss issues that affect employee health and safety on the job.
This season we will focus on cultivating a “Just” safety culture within Technical Operations. In a Just culture, employees are held accountable, but they are encouraged and even rewarded for openly sharing safety-related information. They can report unintentional errors without fear of punishment. It’s usually after a safety incident, when most people say they could’ve or should’ve done things differently. In the ATO, we pride ourselves on anticipating the potential hazard before it creates a problem, learning from it, and then taking action to resolve it.
Within this Just culture, we must do three things to ensure workplace health and safety: Recognize. Resolve. Reinforce.
First, if you see an unsafe condition or situation, recognize it as a potential safety hazard, whether it’s your fault or not. Maybe someone accidentally spills water or coffee on the floor, a normally-secured door is left unlocked, some cables or cords are creating a tripping hazard, co-workers are not wearing the right personal protective equipment, or something else like this.
Then resolve it immediately. Employee safety is everyone’s responsibility. Clean up the spill, report the issue to a manager, or do whatever has to be done. Finally, we need to reinforce acceptable behavior. If a co-worker makes a mistake, respectfully point it out. Or bring it up to the whole team, without calling any one person out. This way, everyone is more mindful about it going forward.
Take a look at the Spring SSD video, which discusses the Just culture and the need to recognize, resolve and reinforce. Also, take a look at an article that highlights how our employees are taking action to enhance workplace health safety.
The Safety Stand Down is a big opportunity to shine a bright light on any existing workplace health and safety concerns. I call on everyone involved to fully participate in these discussions. Talk through safety scenarios. If something happens, does everyone understand their role? Does everyone have what they need? Are the standard safety processes being used, consistently? Could something be improved? These are just some of the kinds of questions we should be asking.
Last week, I talked about the need for all employees to pull together, how all employees at every level can step up and be leaders, and that leadership is about influencing your teams toward achieving positive outcomes. I know our Technical Operations employees will bring this kind of spirit to the Stand Down.
When other organizations develop a workplace safety culture, I’d like for them to call the FAA, and ask us how we do it. Let’s be the model, as we commit to the Technical Operations creed: Protect Yourself. Protect the NAS.
Teri L. Bristol
ATO Chief Operating Officer