Featured Safety The Market

S is for Safety – conversation starters for drone nerds

Let’s face it, if you have a drone business, safety makes you more sustainable, solid and survivable. It helps you save money in the long run. Yes, I am overusing things beginning with S. Sean (see what I did there) @Geeksvana came up with a few of those, but safety was on my mind first.

It’s a two-sided coin, what we should do to ensure we are safe and what the regulator expects of us.

With my manned thing driver hat on I had to undertake human performance and imitations courses because those sorts of things were not a thing when I started out. I dreaded it and thought it was an imposition but came away thinking I really should have known this stuff. 

I am not setting out in this post to bash regulators or operators, but rather to start getting folks to speak the same language.

You should know about two triangles, some cheese, and culture.

But all of these things IMHO are just conversation starters and handy things to drop in to chat when having cocktails with regulators.

The Aviation Safety Triangle Model is a concept used in aviation that represents the three sides of aviation safety: People, Technology, and Environment. Each side of the triangle represents a different aspect of aviation safety. All of these constructs are used in multiple industries.

The People side represents the human element, including the pilots, air traffic controllers, maintenance crews, and other personnel who operate and maintain aircraft.

The Technology side represents the equipment and systems used in aviation, including aircraft, avionics, and other technological devices.

Finally, the Environment side represents the external factors that can affect aviation safety, such as weather, terrain, and other environmental factors.

The next one is falling out of favour.

The Heinrich/Smith Safety Triangle is a model that’s often used in the field of occupational safety and health. It was developed by H.W. Heinrich, a pioneer in the field of industrial safety, and later refined by W.H. Heinrich and E.A. Smith.

The triangle consists of three levels, with each level representing a different aspect of workplace safety. The levels are:

  1. Unsafe Acts: This level represents the actions taken by employees that contribute to accidents and injuries in the workplace. Examples of unsafe acts might include failing to wear protective equipment, using equipment improperly, or failing to follow established safety procedures.
  2. Unsafe Conditions: This level represents the physical or environmental factors that contribute to accidents and injuries in the workplace. Examples of unsafe conditions might include poorly maintained equipment, inadequate lighting, or cluttered workspaces.
  3. Accidents: This level represents the actual accidents or injuries that occur in the workplace as a result of unsafe acts and/or unsafe conditions.

This is the model that produces the 300000, 600,30, 10, 1 triangles from the bottom up that pepper safety management systems (SMS) lecture that aviators have to endure. But that said, it’s the safety culture that should be embedded in your workplace afterwards that is important.

Safety culture is the way in which an organization prioritizes and promotes safety. It includes the beliefs, values, and attitudes of employees and leadership regarding safety. A strong safety culture is one in which everyone is committed to safety and takes responsibility for it. Such a culture encourages open communication, continuous learning, and a focus on risk management.

The phrase just culture is similar.

It recognizes that human errors are inevitable and that individuals should not be punished for actions that were outside of their control or that were based on incomplete or inadequate information.

In a just culture, individuals are encouraged to report safety incidents and near-misses without fear of retaliation, with the goal of identifying systemic safety issues and implementing improvements to prevent future occurrences. The focus is on learning and improvement rather than punishment and blame. I am going to do a slight bit of bashing here, the CAA in the UK uses AAIB information taken out of context against the drone industry. I have a pull-up a sandbag story not about me but a friend (no really honest) who ended up in court after filing a CHIRP, but that’s one for the pub. Back on track.

A just culture also recognizes that intentional acts of misconduct or gross negligence that put safety at risk must be addressed through appropriate disciplinary action. The key is to strike a balance between accountability and learning so that individuals are held responsible for their actions while the organization can continue to learn and improve its safety performance.

Now about cheese, in particular Swiss cheese, the one with holes in it.

Imagine it sliced and then stacked up. The slices are not neatly stacked so if you drop something into a particular hole it might not fall through to the plate below. Each slice represents solutions, but not perfect, those are the holes. If enough holes in slices line up then a problem could fall through the cracks. Yes, I know a different metaphor. In even shorter language look for holes and never let them align. Of course, there are problems.

  • The model assumes that each layer of protection is independent of the others, which may not always be the case.
  • The model does not account for human error, which can occur despite the presence of multiple layers of protection.
  • The model does not consider external factors, such as natural disasters, that can affect the system.

You are very welcome to correct my interpretation of the Swiss Cheese safety model. Here is an example from the medical industry. I never understand why the slices in examples are always vertical.

In summary in order to move forward quickly all sides need to communicate using the same language surrounding the safe operations of drones. Safety really does begin at the top of an organisation and is not to be sniffed at.

Decisions need the help of data gathered in serious testing.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 21st February 2023 at 21:00 this testing is exactly what we will be talking about with Steve Luxion executive director of ASSURE

Similar Posts