The message from senior management intended to convey “Safety is our number one priority” is apparently being muted by the noise of quick turns and on-time departures. Arguably, our safety culture is at risk of becoming a “make it work” culture that is fraught with the perils that accompany divergence from standard operating procedures. We are aware that many of you are frustrated by what appears to be management’s heightened focus not only on issues that appear to compromise safety, but also about how you express these concerns. Safety is a sensitive subject that should concern all of us. As Safety Professionals, we should not be reaching the point of frustration from having systems that don’t support reporting of safety issues nor should we be feeling as if our concerns are being minimized simply because we’ve submitted a report expressing our frustration that has a “tone” management doesn’t like.
What should be clear to all of us in today’s environment is that we cannot allow these other distractions and company priorities to distract us from our primary mission – safety in all things, at all time. Take your moment for safety. Do not let pressure for on time departures, quick turns or pre-departure services take you away from standard operating procedures. Each of us have specific assignments and the arming and disarming of cabin doors must be among our highest priorities. We needn’t tell you of the responsibility that comes with any door assignment or the risk of injury, to yourself or others, that might result from opening an armed door.
On Friday, July 5th , yet another partial inadvertent slide deployment (ISD) occurred in Chicago. No one comes to work intending to deploy a slide inadvertently. Yet these ISDs are occurring with far greater regularity than anyone would like or expect. What can we, as Flight Attendants, do to reduce these increasing events?
As Safety Professionals, we must focus on our specific responsibilities. Only we can prevent inadvertent slide deployments. Arm & disarm those doors for which you have a responsibility. Don’t arm or disarm doors for which you do not have a responsibility. Use your eFAOM to review your responsibilities before every flight, to review door operations with a special emphasis on those aircraft you do not fly frequently. Most importantly, don’t allow yourself to be coerced into hurrying. Stop. Drop. Review.
At the same time, we need to have a full discussion about the heavily distracted environment that has been created by management. Unless and until management accepts its responsibility in the creation of this “rush, rush” mentality, our fear is that things will only get worse. Rush, rush has become ingrained in the day to day operations of our airlines. The message from management must change. Compliance with all FARs, making safety a priority over on time departures and making a commitment to employees that these items, above all else, is the prime directive from the highest levels of management.
Until then, we must support & encourage each other to maintain our commitment to safety. We must remind each other to take our time in completing our safety responsibilities especially when it comes to door operations. When you are arming or disarming a cabin door, nothing else matters. There is no passenger request, no on time departure or quick turn objective that takes priority. We are on the aircraft for this purpose specifically and we cannot delegate that responsibility to another crew member or delay acting on the direction to arm or disarm a cabin door. When you are told to arm or disarm a cabin door, stop what you are doing and go to your assigned exit.
Let’s make good use of the safety briefing before each flight departure to remind ourselves of the priorities that we are empowered to set as safety professionals.