How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture


airline  Positive Safety Culture

Positive safety culture is the shared attitudes, values, and beliefs of the staff within an airline, as they relate to safety goals. A culture where airlines promote safety and involve everyone in solving safety issues, is an essential part of an effective Safety Management System (SMS). Developing a positive safety culture helps ensuring the staff in airlines can make a difference and positively impact the level of safety.


In airlines, senior management should have the intention to institute a positive safety culture, to accomplish this, all staff must act responsibly, and consider the impact of, safety on everything they do. This way of thinking must be so deep-rooted that it truly becomes "airlines' culture." All decisions, whether by the top management or a new-hire employee, must consider the implications on safety. Positive safety culture sets the boundaries for acceptable behavior in airlines' daily operations.


"This is how we do things here!"

An airlines' safety culture should consist of psychological (how people think), behavioral (how people act), and organizational elements.


A Strong Safety Culture Indicators

There are numerous indicators of strong safety culture:

1)      Safety is top-of-mind for everyone

2)      Employees at all levels feel responsible for the safety

3)      There's open communication about safety issues

4)      Safety is valued — employees and management believe It supports profitability and morale

5)      Efforts to maintain safety are organized and consistent

6)      Effective programs ensure that everyone " walks the talk"

Learning About Safety Problems

Airlines should recognize that a punitive response to an employee's mistake is more effective in stifling future news of problems than in preventing them. Airlines' ability to detect and solve problems is crucial to its ability to learn about them.

In a safety management system, failures must be exposed as early as possible to enable learning efficiently. Airlines need to create a safe environment for people to have an honest dialogue, especially if things go wrong. Airlines should build a robust climate of psychological safety that is the foundation of a strong safety culture. airlines that have a robust climate of psychological safety are far less vulnerable to physical safety failures that can harm customers, employees, and communities.

How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture?

If everyone in airlines is trained to do their job safely, and is proactively looking for hazards and reporting incidents and near misses, then airlines are approaching a level of safety that is behavior-driven. All the components of a positive safety culture must be actively demonstrated by managers regularly to encourage everyone to participate in this level of safety is to be achieved.

The SMS policies in airlines' manuals should be designed to promote a positive safety culture. Safety Culture is a complex notion, ultimately reflected by patterns of behavior towards safety in operations, both at the individual and the organizational level. For easier measurement and understanding, Safety Culture can be regarded as a combination of seven sub-cultures:

1)     Priority Culture: Decisions, behaviors, and actions, at all levels, confirm that safety is considered a priority.

Example statement: " Safety is given a definite priority when it conflicts with the airlines' other interests e.g. economic."

2)     Standardizing Culture: Everybody is willing and able to comply with the airlines' regulations, rules, and standards because such rules are complete, applicable, and kept up-to-date.

Example statement: "The safety rules/regulations are relevant and applicable, so there are effective rules for us to follow during the work."

3)     Flexible Culture: Managers respect the knowledge of front-line workers; front-line workers expect the company to adapt to changing demands; there is a mutual belief that safety matters can be discovered and resolved, and mutual willingness to do so.

Example statement. "l am given sufficient opportunities to make suggestions and participate in the safe decision making and implementing a process."

4)     Learning Culture: The organization and individuals display positive and supportive attitudes and behaviors to all kinds of learning, including education, training, and self-training; there is willingness and competence to draw the right conclusions from the safety information system.

Example statement: " There is an active learning atmosphere within my company."


5)     Teamwork Culture: there is an attitude of trust and cooperation among co-workers.

Example statement: "Team spirit and cooperation are well promoted in my company."



6)     Reporting Culture: Individuals are willing to communicate about their errors and near-misses, without fear of repercussions; the airlines actively gather and analyze all types of safety information and provides timely feedback.

Example statement: "The company safety reporting system is operated well and used widely."

7)     Just Safety Culture: The system by which behaviors/actions are evaluated and individuals rewarded or disciplined. It is operated with fairness towards all; everybody is clear about where the line is drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.


Example statement: "The rewards and punishment measures of the company are fair, just, and open."





Culture of safety is defined as: "An organization's values, beliefs, legends, rituals, mission goals, performance measures, and sense of responsibility to its employees, customers, and the community."

A positive safety culture only develops with an aggregate attitude that is manifested by a pervasive type of safety thinking. This type of organizational thinking will permit airlines' employees to have an inherently questioning attitude, a resistance to complacency, a commitment to excellence, and a sense of personal accountability. Airlines' top management should provide a vibrant, encouraging atmosphere in which individual growth is recognized and rewarded.

A true safety culture exists when all employees work as a team to:

-  Maintain awareness of safety issues

-  Quickly report any incidents/occurrences

-  Anticipate risks to prevent accidents before they occur



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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