Establishing a Proactive Reporting Culture

iQSMS    /    November 18, 2023

In aviation, safety is paramount, which is why the industry’s safety work serves as a model for many other high-risk industries. The strength of aviation safety work lies in the fact that the perspective on aviation safety is subject to constant change and development, which means that safety questions are constantly reassessed and re-evaluated in order to set and maintain the highest safety standards not only today, but also in the future.
(Pro)activity is key
(Pro)active safety management plays an important role in this permanent process of change. But what are the key aspects of active safety management? If we break it down, it all starts with collecting and evaluating safety relevant data or in other words:  information on safety-relevant events. The most important source of this data is the information provided by those who are on the forefront every day, such as pilots, cabin crews or ground personnel among others. It is their reports which enable a collection of crucial information on actual or potential operational safety deficiencies.

This clearly shows that reports are the foundation of any effective safety management system (SMS) – no SMS can function properly without reports. In this context, it is obvious that the number of reports plays a key role. The more reports are submitted and available for safety risk analysis and assessment, the more effective an organization’s safety strategy and activities can be. Therefore, it is crucial that a company can motivate its frontline employees to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the implemented safety strategy through their reports. In short, establishing a proactive reporting culture is essential.

But what does it take to encourage frontline staff to report? There are several strategies to promote reporting within the company. These include, for example, creating a trusting non-punitive environment and simplifying reporting procedures.

Establish a just culture in the company
As postulated by James Reason, just culture – as a pillar of a sound safety culture – means an environment where mistakes and safety-related information can be reported openly and honestly without having to fear consequences or repercussions. In other words, a just culture ensures that employees are always treated with fairness based on their actions, not the results of those actions (deliberate misconduct or reckless behaviour excluded, of course). It is the basis for a trusting environment in which a reporting culture can develop and where employees are motivated to contribute to operational safety by reporting hazardous conditions.
Facilitate feedback procedures
Drawing on our years of experience in aviation, we are convinced that it must be made as easy as possible for crews, engineers, ground staff and everyone else in an aviation organization to provide information and feedback.

In the development of iQSMS, we are constantly working to further reduce the effort required for filling reports and to keep it as simple as possible. Therefore, we also support our customers with our knowledge and experience during the implementation of iQSMS and help them to set up intuitive and straightforward report forms for their staff.

Certainly, in the case of mandatory events, the regulatory authorities impose certain information that must be provided to the civil aviation authority. Nevertheless, it is always important to analyse which information must already be provided by the reporter and which information, can eventually be added by the responsible departments at a later stage. Especially in cases where it is not sure whether it is a mandatory occurrence reporting (MOR) and which information needs to be forwarded in this specific situation.

Benefits of iQSMS
In iQSMS, we can optimize the respective forms for each event type to reduce the information requested from the reporter to a minimum, while still containing the essentials. This way, reporters are not overwhelmed by cluttered forms with numerous irrelevant data entry fields and are thus more inclined to report important safety-related information.

The iQSMS offline application, which allows taking pictures of events and adding them directly to the report, makes reporting even more convenient – after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Reports, which were written while the device was offline, are automatically transferred to the server and the iQSMS online system as soon as the mobile device is reconnected to the Internet – with no user interaction required. This ensures that no reports can be forgotten on mobile devices.

Moreover, iQSMS is optimized to cover different reporting processes with a single solution. This ensures that your employees do not have to use different applications for different reporting types. The most common use cases, besides safety reporting, are crew trip reports, security reports, service-related reports or occupational health and safety topics.

As outlined in this article, a company’s safety culture must be implemented and lived across the whole organization. Therefore, the commitment to safety must come from the top of the company and be seen as a central corporate goal, so that employees feel empowered to act in the interest of safety, give feedback and provide relevant information in only a few steps. In addition, an intuitive and simple SMS software like iQSMS can support the development of a company’s safety culture by simplifying the submission of reports and by providing valuable feedback on the reported events or hazards to the reporters.