How to Develop and Maintain a Mature Safety Culture

Airline  Safety

In safety, everyone has a clear idea of what it means to be safe and acts upon it in workplaces and daily life activities. What do we mean by safety as individuals and as an airline?

Safety must be more than just the emotional call to be safe. If we have this thought, we can create a clear vision that the vision is safety first.

Clear vision means we know what we want and communicate it. Also, integrity and trust become simpler to develop and maintain a safe work environment.

In airlines*, safety culture has significant influences on what people do about safety issues. It contributes to strong safety performance. 

Due to the importance of a safety culture, I will explain to you how safety leadership is critical to developing and maintaining a mature safety culture.
*as well as other companies

What Is a Safety Culture?

Culture is the common set of values, beliefs, attitudes, and working practices that determine people's behaviors regarding safety. An airline safety culture determines what people understand by safety, how they understand safety messages, and how they act toward the risks they face daily.

I can describe safety culture in these few words :
( The way we do things around here

If we do our work in line with the safety policy – it is a good safety culture.

Safety Culture and Safety Management System (SMS)

During seven years of my work experience in aviation safety, I formed a concept if there is no safety leadership, no safety culture, this means no safety management system

SMS is a proactive and integrated approach to managing safety including the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies, and procedures. It is more than a manual and a set of safety procedures. 

SMS requires integrating safety management into the day-to-day operational activities of the airline. It helps the development of an organizational culture that reflects the safety policy and objectives.

Safety leaders in airlines must apply ICAO Annex 19 requirements to help them maintain a mature safety culture.  ICAO Annex 19 and its associated documents contain current safety thinking that helps implement SMS effectively to achieve safer airline operations.

Safety Culture and Leadership

Numerous academic studies of safety culture have found culture hard to capture, but all agree on one dimension - the importance of leadership and safety leadership in particular.

Safety leadership is a combination of commitment and action that influences others to do the same. So, safety leaders throughout the airline make a major contribution to determining the safety culture, their decisions, actions, and behaviors set benchmarks for safety through the systems and processes they put in place and promote and support.

Safety leaders should build the following foundations for the safety culture:

Management Commitment and Leadership

Demonstrate commitment, modeling safety behaviors, and leading others in improving safety.

1- Reporting and Learning Culture

Safety leaders must encourage the flow of information – through a culture of reporting – which supports learning in the airline. This means we learn from our errors to enhance safety performance and share lessons learned with our partners to update their risks profile.

2- Worker Involvement

SMS voluntary reporting system helps airlines support and develop worker reporting capability and their involvement in safety enhancement.

3- Just And Fair Culture

Workers must feel they are treated fairly and consistently. Creating a fair and just culture helps with this.  

What is a Just Culture?
An atmosphere of trust in which people are encouraged to provide essential safety-related information, and they are clear about the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

4- Risk Awareness

It is important to increase risk awareness across airline operations.

5- Feedback Strategies.

Staff must receive feedback about any safety report made by them.


Safety Leaders throughout the airline make a major contribution to determining the safety culture. The decisions, actions, and behaviors of these leaders set benchmarks for safety through the systems and processes they put in place and promote and support.

Everyone can be a safety leader because anyone can show their colleagues how they work safely by following the airline's safety policy. We should promote a positive safety culture by reporting safety risks to the SMS manager.

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority.

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