Introduction to Aviation SMS Safety Surveys
Safety Survey™ module allows operators to quickly identify the organization’s safety culture. Respondents can answer the survey and remain anonymous.
Surveys help support a culture of organizational safety and quality improvement.
Organizations can use SMS Pro survey assessment tools to:
- Raise staff awareness about safety and quality issues.
- Diagnose and assess the current status of the existing safety culture.
- Identify strengths and areas for safety culture improvement.
- Examine trends in safety culture change over time.
- Evaluate the cultural impact of safety initiatives and interventions.
- Conduct internal and external comparisons.
Surveys are often taken and stored for future comparisons. For example, how does an organization feel about the current safety culture to a year ago. Safety Survey results are archived in SMS Pro for future analysis.
Purpose of Aviation Safety Surveys
Aviation safety surveys are useful for identifying employee attitudes toward your safety program. They can also be useful when repeated over the years to demonstrate changes in attitudinal beliefs.
What Is an Aviation Safety Survey?
An aviation safety survey is a set of safety related questions that typically have a finite set of answers. Answers to questions are recommended to be "yes/no," scaled or weighted (1 to 5) or (1 to 10), or have answers such as "Never, sometimes, frequently, always." These finite or discrete answer types are easier to graph and demonstrate change then the open ended questions such as, "How would you describe your attitude to the CEO in regards to safety?"
Aviation safety surveys should be kept short in order to reduce frustration and increase participation. Users may suffer your first lengthy safety survey, but next time, they will simply start choosing answers to get through the mess without really reading the questions. Yes, I've done this many times, so I provide my experiences with long safety surveys.
Why Use Aviation Safety Surveys?
Safety surveys are a quick way to gather data to determine whether change needs to be implemented. Safety surveys are also great safety promotion tools.
Carefully crafted safety surveys serve several purposes at the same time:
- You get to receive feedback from a large audience
- Generate awareness of your safety program
- Reduce resistance to change when safety survey is sponsored by top management
- Educate all employees on your "agenda"
- Instilling a sense that management is concerned about safety
Who Prepares Aviation Safety Surveys?
Aviation safety surveys are usually administered by the safety manager or SMS Admin. Safety surveys can be created by anyone with SMS Admin access to the survey, or if required, by an administrative assistant with special permissions to the page.
Aviation safety surveys must be approved by the director of safety and accepted by the accountable executive. Having a specific question regarding the accountable executive increases awareness that the safety manager is implementing the safety program on behalf of the accountable executive.
How Is an Aviation Safety Survey Prepared?
Aviation safety surveys are usually created from templates. There are many sample aviation safety surveys available on the Internet. These range from safety culture surveys to routine safety education surveys.
Once a safety survey template has been chosen, safety managers commonly adapt the sample to fit their organization. For example, if the safety survey template has questions aimed at larger operations, and your company is small, then you would adapt the sample survey questions to fall in line with your organizational size.
Surveys can be administered/delivered by the Web, such as using Survey Monkey, or SMS Pro's built in survey tool, or by handing out paper forms at a safety meeting. The objective of a survey is to obtain data on the attitudes of the employees. Surveys should be kept short. Ten to twenty-five questions is plenty. When your employees have a low reading level, it is advised to keep the number of safety questions in the survey to no more than ten.
When Are Aviation Safety Surveys Prepared?
Safety surveys should be prepared on an annual basis or when you need to educate, inform, or increase awareness. Whenever possible, repeat the same survey on an annual basis in order to demonstrate changes in behaviors.
Other times to create surveys is when managers notice a trend developing, or when they notice that employees are performing their duties against prescribed policies. There may be times when employees don't know the policy and need remedial training. A safety survey is a useful instrument to deliver training in the guise of a survey.
Sources of more information
Safety Survey Examples
GAIN's Operator's Flight Safety Handbook - excellent
US Coast Guard Safety Survey Questions -- good resource
ATSB Safety Survey Questions - at end of document