What is Safety Performance Monitoring and Measurement
Safety performance monitoring is an essential component of aviation safety management systems. And by “essential,” performance monitoring is like your SMS program’s immune system.
When performance monitoring is not handled well, your safety program will wither.
Do you know what performance monitoring looks like?
Performance monitoring basically involves ongoing (real-time) collection of safety data metrics that indicate the health and progress of an aviation risk management program. It is also used to ensure that key safety goals are achieved.
Safety performance monitoring and measurement is an element of the Safety Assurance Component of the Four Pillars of SMS.
Proactive and Reactive Performance Monitoring
There are two types:
- Proactive performance monitoring; and
- Reactive performance monitoring.
Proactive performance monitoring involves monitoring data that indicates performance before a hazard expresses itself. It is sometimes known as a Top Event or Risk Event. For example:
- % of acceptable reported issues per month;
- Number of proactive issues reported per month;
- % employees who have completed hazard identification training;
- Average time to implement preventative actions (i.e., CPAs that are preventative);
- Average time (frequency) between risk control reviews, hazard reviews; policy/procedure updates, etc.;
- Frequency between safety meetings;
- Average likelihood of risk assessments over time;
- And so on.
These monitoring activities check progress of suppressing risk likelihood.
Despite the fact that reactive risk management has the poor reputation of being proactive risk management’s less desirable younger brother, reactive performance monitoring is equally important. Reactive risk management monitoring assesses how well the SMS (employees and risk controls) are able to mitigate risky situations once a risk expresses itself.
Some types of reactive performance monitoring data are:
- Average time to close low, medium, and high risk issues (over time);
- Average time to implement corrective actions (i.e. CPAs that are corrective);
- Number of safety incidents in which damages were successfully mitigated;
- Average severity of risk assessments over time;
- Number of unacceptable issues reported per month;
- And so on.
Both proactive and reactive risk management performance need to be monitored.
Safety Data for Monitoring Safety Performance in SMS
Beyond the above listed proactive and reactive risk management performance monitoring, the most important safety data to your program will be (you guessed it) your key performance indicators:
- Key: most important safety data metrics;
- Performance: quantifies actions and happenings in SMS; and
- Indicator: show whether or not objectives are being met.
Performance monitoring should be prepared with four types of safety data:
- Primary: key performance indicators;
- Secondary: other performance metrics, such as leading and lagging indicators;
- Human Resources: metrics used for employee performance monitoring (next section); and
- Bureaucratic: metrics used to quantify bureaucratic efficiency.
Monitoring key performance indicators help asses how well safety goals and objectives are being met, and secondary metrics will ensure that you are keeping tabs on all other important safety aspects of the aviation SMS program.
Employee Performance Monitoring
Employee performance monitoring is an indispensable resource for building quality safety behavior and safety culture. The fact is that employees will behave when they feel that someone is watching.
It’s nice to dream about working towards a safety culture where employees are dedicated to safety even when the boss isn’t watching. But the reality is that, while there may be a few employees who do this, the vast majority will only follow safety policy if they have personal incentive for doing so. In this case, the best incentive is:
- That safety performance shows up on their performance reviews.
Employee safety performance monitoring should be naturally included in all performance reviews. There should be no “separate” safety reviews. Safety needs to be considered on par with any other quality performance requirement of the employee’s position.
Fortunately, setting up employee performance monitoring is fairly straightforward. To learn how to do this, see the workflow:
How to Monitor Safety Culture
Aviation safety culture leads directly to safety performance. You could even make an argument that SMS bureaucracy aside, safety culture is safety performance.
But trying to get a handle on influencing or monitoring safety culture is notoriously difficult. After all, what is safety culture? There are a many definitions out there. However, it makes less sense to try and define safety culture than it does to simply show:
- What are the different types of safety culture?
- What are characteristics of effective safety culture?
- What are signs of mature safety culture?
Leading indicators are crucial for safety culture performance monitoring. Safety culture is often the underlying cause of many safety incidents. Leading indicators are designed to assess and monitor underlying causes – known as “inputs” into safety performance. It makes sense find leading indicators that measure the kind of safety culture you feel benefits your organization the most.
This list of leading indicator ought to help out tremendously:
Fulfilling Compliance with Safety Performance Monitoring
Compliance is met when:
- Aviation safety goals and objectives are established;
- KPIs have been defined, implemented, and are analyzed for trends;
- Risk controls are monitored/verified/audited to confirm they are working effectively;
- Safety objectives and performance indicators are reviewed and updated periodically;
- Safety objectives are SMART; and
- Information obtained from safety assurance and compliance monitoring activities informs the safety risk management process.