SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

4 Pillars | What Is Safety Promotion Component (The "Overlooked" Pillar)

Posted by Tyler Britton on Jul 3, 2017 5:03:00 AM

What is Safety Promotion Component of 4 Pillars?

4 Pillars of SMS Safety PromotionThe Safety Risk Management and Safety Assurance pillars of SMS receive by far the most attention.

Lagging behind them is Safety Policy.

Then, way in the back, sometimes barely noticeable, is Safety Promotion. To put it in perspective, in the FAA’s Advisory Circular:

  • Safety Policy receives 6 pages of coverage:
  • Safety Risk Management receives 12 pages of coverage;
  • Safety Assurance receives 15 pages of coverage; and
  • Safety Promotion receives 3 pages of coverage.

In the shadow of SRM and SA, it’s easy to overlook just how important Safety Promotion is. This pillar accounts for:

In short, Safety Promotion covers all of the mission-critical mechanisms that allow your SMS program to work in the operational environment. You could even make the argument that Safety Promotion is the most indispensable of all pillars.

Poor demonstrations of safety promotion in an SMS program, such as poor awareness, communication, and/or safety culture, will completely cripple a safety management system. No other pillar can boast such a claim.

Download Monthly Safety Promotion Checklist

Goals of Safety Promotion

In general, the primary goals of Safety Promotion revolve around building confidence in the SMS program, as well as safety in general. This confidence should arise though:

  • Employees who receive proper training and feel confident in performing duties safely;
  • Strong and lines of communication between all employees and different levels of management;
  • Ongoing awareness of pertinent safety issues; and
  • A demonstrable policy of non-punitive reporting.

The above points are only helpful conceptually. But they are generalities. What is important is to know what the above points translate to in the operational environment in tangible ways:

  • High percentage of employees receive induction training, hazard identification training, etc.;
  • Training courses feature beginning and/or end of course assessments;
  • Employees are all familiar with who the safety managers is, and interact with him/her on a regular basis;
  • Management regularly communicates recent safety concerns to all employees, such as with a daily email, weekly meeting, and monthly newsletter; and
  • Ability for management to openly discuss (such as in meeting) any safety issue without receiving resistance or negative reactions.

It’s always recommended that safety management outline specific Safety Promotional goals in their policies.

Types of Safety Promotion Activities

Most promotional activities are what we call “input activities.” What this means is that they are influencing what goes in to safety performance (as opposed to Safety Assurance, which addresses what comes out of safety performance). It’s also no coincidence that a majority of aviation leading indicators address the Safety Promotion pillar.

Here are some of the most important safety promotional activities:

More than any other pillar, we have seen Safety Promotion at its most successful when companies have a dedicated calendar for promotional activities. This is because it’s easy to get bogged down in SRM, Safety Policy, and SA activities, and only practice promotion sporadically. This calendar will ensure that daily, weekly, and monthly promotional activities are consistent.

How to Measure Success of Safety Promotion

Here’s the rub: how do you know if your safety promotion is working? This is a tough question with no immediately clear answers. There are 3 creative ways to do monitor the effects of your Safety Promotion activities:

  1. Aviation leading indicators;
  2. Employee performance monitoring; and
  3. Key performance indicators (KPIs).

In conjunction, these three activities can give you an extremely accurate picture of how effective promotional activities are. It works like this:

  1. Use leading indicators to monitor promotional activities over time, such as:
    • Frequency of safety meetings;
    • % Employees received all safety training;
    • % Employees received induction training;
    • Employee turnover rates each month;
    • Safety survey results;
    • And so on…
  2. Compare successes/failures of leading indicator metrics to improvement/declines in each employee’s performance, such as:
    • % on time CPA completion;
    • Safety meeting attendance;
    • Average number of hazard reports submitted per month;
    • Competency of test scores;
    • And so on….
  3. Compare success/failures of leading indicator metrics to company key performance indicators.

Having a side by side visual comparison of leading indicators, employee performance, and KPIs will produce solid evidence and great understanding of what promotional activities are or aren’t translating to improved performance on an individual and company-wide level.

Why Is Safety Promotion Undervalued

So the question remains: if Safety Promotion is so important, why is it so undervalued?

First and foremost, oversight agencies are not making it a priority. When the FAA only allots 10% of its requirement descriptions to Safety Promotion and 90% on the other three pillars, it’s no wonder the lack of safety promotion is endemic in aviation safety programs.

Consider a couple of hard questions:

  • Are you monitoring the frequency of your safety promotional efforts?
  • Do you know who is attending safety meetings or how often they are happening?
  • How much do employees know about current safety issues in the company?

Unfortunately, most companies don’t have much to say in response to these kinds of questions. Who can blame them? Oversight agencies are pushing much higher priorities on service providers and so promotion gets lost in the weeds.

The second reason that promotion is undervalued is for the before mentioned reasons:

  • The components of Safety Promotion (“culture,” “communication,” etc.) are extremely vague.

Combine this vagueness with a sore lack of oversight guidance, and companies have very little incentive to make a sincere go at Safety Promotion.

Final Thought: Safety Promotion Article Take Away

Ideally, this article will have helped you:

  1. Have a greater appreciation for the importance of Safety Promotion;
  2. Understand the disservice of lack of guidance from oversight agencies; and
  3. Learn some non-vague, well-grounded activities for improving and monitoring promotion.


 Download Monthly Safety Promotion Checklist

Published November 2017. Last updated April 2019.

Topics: 4-Safety Promotion

Site content provided by Northwest Data Solutions is meant for informational purposes only. Opinions presented here are not provided by any civil aviation authority or standards body.



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