Highlights from the Transportation Safety Board’s Safety Summit

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The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) held a two-day Transportation Safety Summit in Ottawa in April 2016. More than 70 senior executives and leaders representing operators, labour organizations, industry associations and regulators attended the summit, which provided a forum to hear experiences and best practices, and to exchange and challenge ideas.

The theme of the summit was information flow. One presentation found two broad types of problems related to information flow: either information wasn’t flowing through the organization or information was flowing but risks weren’t being mitigated.

In cases where information wasn’t flowing, the reasons fell under four main themes:

1.     Risks were accepted as part of the job or risk adaptation had occurred

2.     Unsafe practices were condoned in a poor safety culture

3.     Weak incident reporting or investigation processes didn’t identify risks and so opportunities to mitigate were missed

4.     Safety management practices didn’t exist or existed only on paper and weren’t being used, allowing issues to go unaddressed.

In cases where risks weren’t mitigated despite information flowing, the reasons fell under three main themes:

1.     Weak safety processes didn’t facilitate risk mitigation

2.     Information didn’t reach the right people

3.     Design parameters weren’t recognized as potentially problematic.

For more information on presentations from the summit, identified best practices and case studies, the TSB just released a report on the summit that covers:

  • A vision of how effective safety culture and safety management can help to improve safety proactively
  • Examples of how successful companies have developed their safety culture and safety management practices to improve information flow
  • A discussion of potential obstacles to realizing the vision, and ideas to overcome these obstacles, including the importance of trust in changing organizational culture.