Safety Purpose vs the Legal Purpose: Why the Safety Purpose Works: are you looking and leading forward or backward?
The Safety Purpose seeks the cause of mishaps and tries to determine procedures to immediately and forever prevent a re-occurrence. The Legal Purpose on the other hand attempts to find fault or blame for injury and damage and assign penalties.
But there is one other very significant characteristic that safety managers need to know in order to do their job successfully, to be winners and lead their organization into a mishap free future. Here it is in a nutshell:
Lawyers only look backwards in time, never forward. When a lawyer says, “The ice crystal icing is new,” what he/she really means to communicate with you is that this subject area before has never shown up in court previously in a negligence case. There is no case history of this type of event.” We have recently heard a statement similar to this in AF 447 reports.
The event of ice crystal formation around the clouds of very tall thunderstorms is as old as the natural history of the earth, that is tens of billions of years old. Scientists of meteorology physics have shown us this in lab experiments and field observations. Teachers of pilots have been warning students to not only stay out of thunderstorms, but to say away from the high overhang of the upper clouds as well. This is nothing “new,” and pilots who desire to have a long career have paid heed to this advice for decades.
This is a good example of why lawyers running safety programs is a flawed concept. In law school, lawyers are taught to only look backwards.
THE SAFETY PURPOSE on the other hand, looks forward. Safety looks forward toward accident reduction, toward hazard resolution and the huge financial savings of mishap-free flight operations. So safety was achieved in flight school by educating pilots in the future to stay clear of thunder storms and avoid the overhangs. Not only can the ice crystal threat of the overhang be a hazard, but often hail showers can be located in these areas.
The flaws in the fostering of the Safety Purpose at BEA, AF, AB and other organizations such as FAA may very well be rooted in this very basic differential theory of management.
It is my opinion that the forward view found in SAFETY THEORY is of much more value to the commercial airline industry that the Legal Theory of finding fault and assigning penalties.
My guess is that airlines with safety people in charge of safety programs do a heck of a lot better than those with lawyers trying to run things. My guess is that the safety people at the regulatory authorities do a daily, albeit losing battle with the attorneys that have taken over positions of upper management.