Understanding Safety / General

Safety Concept

Aviation is an environment of many risks. Weather, complex equipment, high energy – high speed mass transportation, terrain etc are some of the risk factors involved. For this reason, safety in aviation is highly related to risk management. ICAO defines safety as “the state in which the possibility of harm to persons or of property damage, is reduced to and maintained at or below an acceptable level, through a continuous process of hazard identification and safety risk management.”

We have recognised that we cannot eliminate hazards and risks, as this would simply mean grounding all the aircraft and shutting down all airlines. Risk free activities cannot be guaranteed, so the risk must be somehow mitigated – controlled. No human activity or system can remain free from hazard and errors. Total elimination is unattainable. Ultra-safe systems cannot exist as this would imply a failure in monitoring, preventing of anticipating the hazards and risks. The lapse in detection is by definition an unsafe environment, it is the lack of safety.

Safety is a very difficult concept to measure, as it is defined by the individual activities and its result i the absence of something (accidents). We therefore have trouble in measuring and improving this concept which is defined by the absence of data. Safety is therefore a state of operation where there is freedom from danger and/ or injury and its measurement in based on the protections we attempt to place in order to mitigate the unwanted outcomes.