CEOs and other accountable managers — those who must answer to regulatory authorities — have consistently more confidence in company safety procedures than do safety managers, according to a survey of European aviation safety professionals.
The survey, conducted by Baines Simmons for the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), questioned 35 CEOs and accountable managers and 15 safety managers about their companies’ performance across the “four pillars” of a safety management system — policies and objectives, risk management, assurance and safety promotion.
They found a “consistent difference” in the views of CEOs and accountable managers, who reported an average confidence of 79 percent across the four pillars, and safety managers, who reported an average confidence of 61 percent.
“Whilst accountable managers recognised that improvements could be made, their perception was one of far greater confidence in their organisation’s ability to manage operational risks than that of their safety managers,” the report on the survey said.
The report suggested that the differences may stem from the context in which members of the two groups receive a company’s safety-related information.
“We have seen many organisations where the senior leadership view of safety performance has been inflated by a management team whose own performance targets have been biased towards production,” the report said. “Safety managers, with their oblique and specialist view of an organisation’s safety performance, often have a greater insight into the ‘lived reality’ of risk management in an organization but struggle to convincingly articulate this.”