Randy Babbitt addressed FAA's Shared Vision for Safety Conference this week, stressing that the most successful safety efforts are not programs, but rather cultures. Babbitt touted voluntary reporting systems, the data sets they create and lessons those sets teach, as keys to improving an already safe system:
After having experience on both sides of the table, I am convinced that the voluntary reporting systems are the only tools we have that will allow us to step safety up to the next level. A just safety culture demands that when someone sees something — anything — that gives them pause, that’s the very time to raise your hand and say, “I think I’ve noticed something that needs looking at.” And to do that without fear of reprisal.
The administrator also made it clear that safety management systems will play an integral role in pulling together the reporting, data mining, and cultural aspects necessary for a successful safety effort:
This industry is known for stepping up when it needs to and even when it doesn’t. That’s why I’m confident that SMS will really make a difference. I know that there are those who complain that they’re too small for SMS. Or that it’s too costly. Or that they don’t have time.
One by one: no one and no company is too small for SMS. The cost of SMS is far less that the cost of an accident. Saying that you don’t have time for SMS is the functional equivalent of saying that you don’t have time for safety. At its essence, SMS forms a real triangle of safety. You identify the problem, you analyze it, you come up with a solution, you train to the solution, and then you check how you’re doing. Bottom line: SMS is a safety feedback loop.
Not only is SMS here to stay, it’s going to be here for the long haul because it works. Everybody has a responsibility for safety. SMS gives us the wherewithal to gather information that takes safety to the next level. If you’re looking for the keys to unlock the safety question, SMS is a good place to start.
Here's the full speech