Case Study

Ed Sims

Building a reporting culture – the CEO’s role

Ed Sims, former CEO, Airways New Zealand

Why incident reporting is critical

In the aviation industry mistakes can have dire consequences. That’s why we're so focused on ensuring they don’t happen. Civil aviation regulations require us to report certain serious operational incidents. But operational incidents are quite rare in our business. So voluntary reports on less serious incidents or near misses are often much more valuable in helping us improve our operational and occupational safety systems.

How just culture supports proactive reporting

It can be difficult for people to voluntarily report incidents that are due to human error by themselves or colleagues. To overcome this reluctance Airways has accepted that making mistakes is part of being human, and has adopted a just culture. Under a just culture employees who self-report unintended mistakes aren’t subject to criticism or penalties.

Lessons on building a reporting culture

I believe that the changes needed to build a proactive reporting culture and a just culture must be led by the CEO. Too often I’ve seen safety initiatives falter because someone didn’t have the delegated financial authority or was concerned about the strategic implications. But the CEO's unique position, where they control the operational, financial and strategic aspects of the company, means they can make that initiative happen.