Saturday, August 17, 2013

Safety Philosophy

Today, the spouses were asked to attend a training. It was the training for MAF's safety philosophy. As a matter of fact, this is what standardization is- we are here, in Idaho, because they are serious about teaching and applying their safety philosophy. They are teaching us how to fly very safely in a very demanding environment.

Have you ever stopped to think that there is a risk involved with any and every job out there. Don't believe me? Have you ever tripped at work? Have you ever hurt your back lifting up something too heavy? Have you ever been shocked plugging something in? It doesn't matter where you work or what you do, there is always a risk involved.

What people do on a daily basis is weigh their risks versus the possible benifits. The risk of tripping over my own two feet on a daily basis is so minimal, that I take that risk and continue to walk. But the risk of being stabbed by a pair of scissors is much higher when running, therefore, I do not take that risk and will walk with the blades safely turned down. Most people do not allow their daily risks to influence their day to day lives and go about their business without even stopping to access any possible dangers! Just look at how many people cross the street in an area that is not a crosswalk!

Well, lucky for us, MAF has is an entire department devoted just for safety, and their goal is to minimize the risks involved with our jobs. The department does things like training, flight reviews, in-field safety audits, and runway checks every three years.

So, let's use a real world example of a common risk and how MAF would respond. how are risks and hazards minimized?
Let's say you have to walk up these stairs everyday for work. Well, MAF would perform a standard safety audit with three goals in mind: identify, access, and reduce. First, the problem(s) must be identified. These stairs are missing guardrails, each step is uneven, and their height difference is mismatched. All of these factors are risky and could cause a fall. Then, the situation is accessed for its level of hazard based on surrounding factors (like accessibility to others, hazards found around it, how often the stairs are used, etc.). So if the stairs are used frequently by workers, then I would guess the level to be a medium level of danger. Finally, the hazard is reduced. Perhaps a guardrail is added and maybe a few steps are replaced. The goal is to reduce as many risks as possible, since it is impossible to remove all risks in life.

The same example can easily be applied to flying. MAF has a trend monitoring program in place that allows the safety department to track deviations from our standard operating procedure. For example, let's say every Monday of every week I will fly a certain group on a certain route, and someone else will fly the same group on the same route on Friday of every week. During the dry season, we can make it back fine by one hour before sunset. But once rainy season begins, we begin to struggle to arrive before sunset because of bad weather. The safety department notices an increased frequency of late arrivals, after sunset, and they start helping us look for ways to get us back on time during the rainy season. One way would be to shorten the route, or another would be to add some training so we could modify our standard procedure to help meet this need.

Here is another real world example: At MAF bases all over the world, we use the very popular Cessna Turbo Cessna 206. Let's say one of the 206's in Indonesia has a certain part break.We have an identical plane in Congo and the same part breaks on ours, and also on the 206 in Lesotho. Because we are not in contact with the Indonesia or Lesotho bases, we would not notice the trend, but because of MAF's safety system in place, they do, and they can publish a Standardized Maintenance Procedure to alert us to a common issue.

There you have it! A basic idea of our safety policy in place. We have heard that "our overall goal is not to arrive at the destination, our goal is to have safe landings. Arriving at the desired destination is just gravy." We are so very blessed to be a part of an organization who has developed a system to keep us as safe as possible.

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