Safety is our key priority in the sky, on the ground, in everything we do
Posted on April 28, 2021 at 08:00 AM in General News
Safety is the greatest responsibility of all airlines, to ensure that flights take off and land safely, to meet the duty of care to passengers and flight crew, and to protect the wellbeing of all staff who contribute to the day-to-day running of our business.
28th April is an important annual awareness day, marked globally as the ‘World Day for Safety and Health at Work’ offering a valuable reminder to focus attention on how promoting and creating a safety and health culture can help reduce work-related injuries.
Solomon Airlines management members Napoleon Padabela, Safety Systems Manager, and Monica Utukana, Human Resources Manager, share their insights as to what safety means to the national carrier, and why safety is our foremost consideration, in everything we do.
Napoleon Padabela, Safety Systems Manager
“Between our offices, airport terminals, tarmac and engineering areas, and of course on our aircraft, safety is of paramount importance,” said Napoleon Padabela.
“As the national carrier, we play a crucial role in supporting quality of life in the Solomon Islands and the ongoing development of a safe, strong and affordable air transport network is vital to the people and economy of the Solomon Islands.
“That is a responsibility we take very seriously.
“At Solomon Airlines we seek to create an organisation where everyone considers safety, health, and security to be paramount in the execution of our business.
“We achieve our safety goals through a combination of both internal checks and processes and external audits, where we must meet strict standards and obligations set by independent aviation regulators such as the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Program.
“Solomon Airlines holds an IOSA Certificate which means the airline meets an international standard for its international operations. This is also a requirement to enter into code-share agreements with other airlines.
“An IOSA audit occurs every two years to ensure that airline safety standards are upheld and that all departments operate in accordance with their approved manuals and within the Law.
“Internally, a vital part of achieving safety aims in any business is ongoing education and safety promotion. Keeping staff informed about current safety issues, through regular communications, sourcing relevant training tools, and encouraging participation in courses and seminars have all helped to improve understanding and the safety of the organisation”.
“A large part of the success of any safety program also relies on creating a culture where reporting is accepted and encouraged,” he said.
“It is very important to have a company culture where there is no fear of disciplinary action for reporting errors and hazards. In our case, we have a well-established framework, understanding, and an AIRS (Accident Incident Reporting System) in place to make this easier.
“I encourage everyone, regardless of the organisation they work for, to be conscious of safety issues in their environment, to ensure they use the correct tools and take proper precautions, and to openly report to their supervisor any safety hazards or risks they see in their workplace.
“With robust processes in place, should any issues arise, they can be immediately identified, recorded, addressed, and actions are taken where necessary to enforce company policy,” he said.
Monica Utukana, Human Resources Manager
Providing safety in the workplace goes beyond the physical environment to the mental wellbeing of people, according to Solomon Airlines Human Resources Manager Monica Utukana.
“Our company has an absolute obligation to ensure that the airline meets the highest standards of safety in accordance with all relevant regulators’ requirements.
“Part of that is our duty to provide a safe workplace for our employees which starts by ensuring a thorough induction process occurs upon employment, including educating staff on our operations, policies, and our expectations,” she said.
“‘Safety first’ is not just about the literal safety of our staff and our passengers, but also about their feeling of safety, which we nurture through our company's dedication to the long-term wellbeing of people and ensuring there is in-built flexibility to meet short term challenges.”
“Especially during COVID-19, we are actively listening to our staff to ensure that at this difficult time we cater to their wellbeing as much as possible.
“An example is our Honiara-based international cabin crew. While our borders remain closed and due to the quarantine requirements of various countries, our crew would spend the majority of their lives in long periods of quarantine and away from their families.
“Following consultation with them, we have created a temporary, short-term crew strategy to ensure that we can maintain our crew and their readiness for when normal operations can commence, but at the same time support the survivability of our airline.
“We also have flexibility in terms of financial and health stress underpinned by our leave policy and ongoing consultation between management and staff as to their daily challenges, with each concern raised addressed directly by our Executive Management team.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of mental health challenges has increased in many workplaces around the world.
“In managing the challenges, our approach has been to provide external resources, internal flexibility, and an open culture to meet and discuss concerns with employees.
“We have established company policies that address drug and alcohol use, domestic violence support, and various safety and health policies.
“Our policies guide behaviour and conduct, to encourage awareness within our workplace and acceptance and support for personal challenges. This extends to special leave allowances and medical insurance. We assist however we can despite our own financial challenges.
“We have also engaged SAFETNET, a service provider that assists staff to access available and appropriate support and protective services, including psychological support.
“It is crucial to have open communication with staff, to actively listen to their problems or issues that affect them, and to find suitable solutions as possible. This supports a productive workforce and reduces risks to safety as well.”
“When focussing on safety, it is important for companies to remember to also manage psychological and mental health risks.
“Under Work Health & Safety Laws, organisations must also eliminate or minimise the risk to psychological health and safety arising from the work carried out, as much as can reasonably be achieved,” she said.
Helpful references on this subject from the World Health Organisation considering the COVID-19 climate are available here.
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