There is a new phrase going around the safety community and it is “safety culture.” What is safety culture? Safety culture is the ways in which safety is managed in the workplace, and often reflects "the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and values that employees share in relation to safety."
What is safety? Safety is the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury, or loss. There are different types of safety. One, the most thought of, is personal safety. This is thought of when you are wearing your safety vests, your harnesses, or performing a myriad of tasks that we do every day on the job. Another type is process safety; this is thought of as task fulfillment. This is what we do every day as a matter of procedure. Is the way we are doing things safe, or are there better processes to do the job more safely? You are accountable for your actions, but dependent on procedures or current norms. With an improved safety culture you look for things that affect you in every work day and in your personal life, not only that, you look at the way you accomplish tasks, and identify problems if the norm or status quo is not working as it should.
We as mechanics have seen that most procedural changes are reactive rather than proactive. Safety culture is trying to change this, to see ahead, to hear from all concerning safety or procedures that need to be addressed. We have seen many cases of OSHA violations and FAA inspections or Letters of Investigation (LOI) that could have been prevented if we had been more diligent in our efforts or more bold with our decisions to address the situations instead of burying our heads and letting the other person worry about it.
“Do the right thing even when nobody is watching.” This was a statement made by Deborah A. P. Hersman, Acting Chairman of the NTSB while talking about “safety culture.” This is something that all AMTs should embrace, and with the continuous additions to all tasks, manuals, paperwork, and workload they should recognize the potential for safety and to manage the tasks, risks, and to know the consequences of not being able to perform these correctly and safely.