Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year Resolution: Non-Punitive Actions

New year is the time of the year when most of us make promises to ourselves to live a different lifestyle or take on challenges that have been out of reach before. These promises are often made in the spur of the moment and without consequences if not kept. Often, when a new-year resolution is made, it becomes a game to see if anyone can make it last past the first month of the year.

Illegal activity of the SMS.
This year a new-year’s resolution could be to implement a non-punitive policy in the organization. When a safety management system in aviation is required by the regulations a non-punitive policy must be in place to conform to regulatory requirements. This policy is written and implemented, but there are several options to find an “out” when there are issues that goes against operational practices. Unless there is a total commitment to safety in aviation, where information and data is critical to improve safety, the expectations for a non-punitive policy is that it is not applicable to: illegal activity, negligence or willful misconduct. These conditions make fully sense not to include as a “get out of jail free” card to personnel. However, when organizations are unable to pre-qualify and define what actions are included in illegal activity, negligence or willful misconduct, decisions are made in the spur of the moment and after the fact.

Illegal activity must be pre-defined in a job description, or for a job performance evaluation and based of decisions made by the courts. Illegal activity cannot be applied as punishment by a private individual, or an organization, to any person for a job description violation, or lack of job performance. When integrating illegal activity into SMS the management has an obligation to determine if there was an act of illegal activity to any and all incidents or accidents.
Negligence becomes a challenge to defined in a job-description or apply to a job-performance evaluation since this would involve the organization’s effectiveness of training. When an error, mistake, on unplanned event happen to someone the organization has an obligation to determine if the action must be classified as negligence. For a safety management system to identify negligence data must be collected, analyzed and investigated. Within the SMS system there are no regulatory requirement, or standard to assess, or audit a job performance against negligence as this also would jeopardize the just-culture of the SMS system.

Willful misconduct is a human behavior action and the violation is enforceable by a regulation, standard or policy. An organization that includes willful misconduct in their job description, or as a standard for an on-the-job evaluation, have an obligation to assume that every incident, or
Without data, it’s just some person’s opinion.
accident are the result of willful misconduct. When willful misconduct is applied in the SMS investigation processes the organization has developed a culture where job-performance reviews are elevated to a level beyond a functional SMS.

The Safety Management System is a system that can only operate within a just-culture, or a culture where learning is accepted and encouraged. When applying illegal activity, negligence or willful misconduct opportunities for learning are eliminated since these activities are only intended as enforceable policies. When applying these criteria, an organization is moving outside the scope of operational activities and job-performance standards. In addition, these policies are contradictory to a functional Safety Management System and an operational safety culture within a just-culture. Illegal activity, negligence or willful misconduct are the new-year resolutions of aviation safety.