Developing a Safety Culture Is Not Easy

 - February 4, 2013, 3:15 PM

In advance of this month’s Air Charter Safety Foundation Safety Symposium, one of the event’s speakers, Robert Carraway, wrote about the difficulty of developing a working safety culture in any industry.

“Every corporate aviation department or fractional ownership company or any other player in this industry believes it has a safety culture,” said Carraway, an associate professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business. “I suspect most, if being truthful, are skeptical that they could be more safety conscious than they already are.”

He also maintained, “All formal programs, processes or regulations developed to improve the safety culture are highly superficial and can be easily undermined by the failure of individuals…to accept the basic premise that we could be more safe.”

In his view, these programs fail because people see them as a waste of time. “That distinguishes you from virtually no other industry or company I’m aware of that has been interested in trying to modify its culture,” stated Carraway. “But I believe there is hope that lies not in company or industry-wide structures or processes, but at the level of the individual. The true impact of culture is the effect it has between the ears of its individual constituents, how it shapes what they think, say and, most important, what they do.”