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Safety Culture in Aircraft Maintenance Sector

Mansour A. Elkhweldi1,2, Saber Kh. Elmabrouk3,4


1
Safety Director, United Aviation Company, Mitiga International Airport, Tripoli, Libya
2
Engineering Project Management, Libyan Academy, Tripoli, Libya, melkhweldi@unitedaviation.ly
3
Faculty of Engineering, University of Tripoli
4
Engineering Project Management, Libyan Academy, Tripoli, Libya, saber_elmabrouk@yahoo.com

engineers must carefully observe all LYCAA rules and


Abstract- Aircraft maintenance profession is one of the regulations when performing any job duty.
important professions that affects directly the performance of
flight operations before and after aircrafts flights. The number
of incidents and accidents in aviation sector is fluctuating
according to different factors, in which safety culture is one of
the important factors that affect the overall safety in aviation. The study samples were group of four operators
Safety culture reflects the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and companies in Mitiga airport where one company
values that individuals share in relation to safety. It is often is related to private sector and the other three
identified as being essential to an organizations ability to are general companies sector. The age range of
manage safety-related aspects of its operations. The target of the respondents is (24-59), the experience range
this study is to assess individual perceptions and judgments of varied between 5 to 35 years. Technical
safety culture in practical contexts by using nine aspects of knowledge of the respondents range from
safety culture with their related questions (Work situation, medium to very good according to lack of training
Learning, Communication, Risk perception, Attitude toward which was due to political situation and
safety, Justness, Safety-related behaviors, Flexibility and turbulence that existed in the country.
Reporting). The safety culture was assessed using
observations, questionnaire package and interviews. This 2. SAFETY CULTURE
study pertains to aircraft maintenance sector in Mitiga Many high reliability industries around the world are
International Airport located in Tripoli, Libya. A number of 44 showing an interest in the concept of safety culture, as a way
samples were answered the suggested questionnaire. Number of reducing the potential for large-scale disasters.
of interviews had been held with the managers and ramp staff. Organizations have certain characteristics which can be called
Data assessment revealed results which can be useful to its culture. These are generally invisible to those within the
upgrade level of safety culture to safety in overall. Assessment company, and yet quite transparent to those from a different
of the nine safety culture aspects were found to function well culture. Safety culture is a sub-set of organizational culture
with good reliability (internal consistency) in the aircraft which has been described as: who and what we are, what we
maintenance sector with () value above 0.8. A Likert scale of find important, and how we go about doing things around
five scale was used. Assessment with gained results of mean here There are some questions that we may ask like; is there a
(M), standard deviation and variance showed low average safety information system that collects, analyses and
scores in the nine aspects. Individual characteristics such as disseminates information from incidents and near misses, as
experience was found to have very little effect on how the well as from regular proactive checks on the system; has a
safety culture aspects were perceived and judged. reporting culture where people are prepared to report their
errors, mistakes and violations; has a culture of trust where
Keywords: Safety culture, Mean, Standard Deviation people are encouraged and even rewarded to provide essential
safety-related information, but also in which it is clear where
the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior is
1. AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE PROFESSION drawn; has the willingness and competence to draw the right
conclusions from its safety system, and is willing to
An aircraft maintenance engineer is responsible for implement reform when it is required. sa Ek and Roland
ensuring an aircraft operates properly and safely. A Akselsson, (2007) wrote that no generally agreed-
maintenance engineer may make repairs, troubleshoot on definition of safety culture exists. However,
problems, conduct inspections and make upgrades to aircrafts. most investigators agree that a safety culture
Daily duties may include keeping records of and performing includes elements such as good communication,
scheduled maintenance, making emergency repairs, or organizational learning, senior management
preparing for Libyan Civil Aviation Administration (LYCAA) commitment to safety, and a working
inspections. An aircraft maintenance engineer works with environment that rewards the identification of
specialized aviation and power tools, computers, diagnostic safety issues. A combination of good
equipment and x-ray machines. While working, he may climb organizational learning, reporting, justness, and
ladders or stand on scaffolds, manage other maintenance staff flexibility is emphasized. In a learning culture
or spend long hours on emergency repairs. Maintenance
there exists both the will and competence to organization staff, data was gathered on nine
learn from experience and the readiness to aspects concerning (work situation, flexibility,
implement improvements. In a just culture there communication, justness, safety-related
are just consequences following the reporting of behaviors, attitude towards safety, risk
an incident or anomaly. This can enhance the perception, learning and reporting). A survey was
willingness to forward information about work and conducted using a questionnaire designed around
safety, which is a fundamental feature of a a Likert Scale to quantify the degree to which
reporting culture and a proactive approach to reflect a positive culture or negative culture is
safety. Flexibility in an organization concerns the applicable. The Likert Scale used was assigned
ability to transform the work organization to with five degrees (Strongly disagree, Disagree, No
manage changing demands, for example, in opinion, Agree, Strongly Agree). The sensitive
periods of high workload. It also comprises nature of the information gathered for this study
respect for individuals skills and experiences. made the anonymous survey a good instrument
3. Aim of this paper for this purpose.

Assessing safety culture in aircraft maintenance 5. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS


sector can show whether there is a positive culture or
The first part of the questionnaire package contains questions
negative culture in this sector. Since safety culture
about the profession, experience period and organization name of the
affects overall safety of aircraft maintenance study samples. Reference to assessing safety culture, it is found that
profession, so there good chance to improve the nine scales representing the nine safety culture aspects found to
safety through upgrading related safety culture function well (with a good level of measurement reliability) in the
aspects that may be useful for appraisal the aircraft maintenance sector study samples settings, and may
organization overall safety that affect aviation constitute valuable methods for monitoring and improving safety
business management. It is also aims to culture aspects in working environments. The questionnaire and
contribute in the development of methods of interview methods have strengths and weaknesses (as do most other
methods). It is noted that questionnaires are often criticized as a
safety culture assessment that can support
researcher tool because of the problem with distorted answers by
continuous improvement processes for safety in responders, i.e. answers that are not truthful. There can be many
an organization. reasons for these distortions. One can be that the responder simply
does not know the answer to a question and therefore guesses.
4. METHDOLOGY OF THE STUDY Another can be that the responder would like to make a good
The study was seeking to gather the required impression. For example, it has questions about behaviors and
information using questionnaire that was totally attitudes towards safety of both the individual responder and of work
voluntary and the responses were completely colleagues in the organization. Instead of answering honestly, the
anonymous. There were interviews had been responder may answer the way he believes to be socially desirable.
The responder can be disappointed with himself for having a
taken place with managers, supervisors and ramp
particular attitude, or feels he is letting the work colleagues down by
staff to discuss more ideas and understand the an honest way. I believe that the responders answers are generally
general responses of respondents. Visits were honest in the studies presented. However, comments during
also done to watch and note the layout of the interviews with the staff revealed existing problems concerning trust
places and environments of the study. in key persons, and lack of anonymity when writing a report. The
Communications and discussions with the staff was aware of the importance of reporting deficiencies in
responsible employees of safety and quality technical equipment and therefore gave responses that were in line
departments had been taken place where there with what was socially desirable in the ramp division. This finding
illustrates the value of obtaining questionnaire data. The reliability of
was good chance to have information about
interview data can be affected by various sources of error, some of
registered safety records that gave more which can be attributed to the subject and some to the interviewer.
information what types of safety procedures The basic components in the questionnaires are the questions and
already existed, what safety errors, hazards and their design. Great effort was made to make the questions as clear and
risks were noted and how they were managed understandable as possible. Both emotionally charged wording and
and mitigated. In the assessment of safety leading questions were avoided. This increases the chances of
culture in the study presented here, each of the obtaining reliable answers from the responders. Samples of
nine aspects says or describes something about a questionnaire were submitted to selected responders to have their
safety culture; the aspect could be about the answers and their comments. Several trials were made to correct and
improve the questionnaire questions to the final shape.
effects of a safety culture or could be a
prerequisite for the existence of a safety culture.
6. ASSESSING THE NINE SAFETY CULTURE ASPECTS
The nine aspects are not necessarily independent
(SCALES) EDITING SERVICE
or uncorrelated, but they are easy to use in
practical settings. These aspects provide a Using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences)
valuable and practically useful view of a safety software is essential in assessing number of items and it is
culture within organizations. In order to study the used in this paper analyze and assess safety culture aspects.
issue at the operational level for selected
6.1. Reliability (internal consistency)
The internal consistency (reliability) of the nine safety
Do you experience
culture aspects (scales) in the questionnaire package were
assessed using Cronbachs alpha coefficient, the Cronbachs that the knowledge
coefficient alpha test () of each scale demonstrated and experiences of 0.507 44 0.000 0.440 44 0.000
acceptable internal consistency and reliability for the aircraft
maintenance sector in Table (6.1). Noticeable values of alpha all employees are
coefficient showed values above 0.8 which show indication appreciated?
that there were internal consistency.
Do you receive the
Table (6.1) Internal Consistency (Cronbachs Alpha Coefficient)
information you need
Alpha coefficient()
The nine safety culture aspects
to be able to carry 0.415 44 0.000 0.688 44 0.000
work situation 0.838
out your job in a safe
0.837
Flexibility manner?
Communication in Normal 0.834
work Do you think it is
0.834
Justness accepted that
0.835
Safety related behaviors sometimes you make 0.396 44 0.000 0.736 44 0.000
0.833 a mistake in your
Attitudes towards Safety
0.836 work?
Risk perception
0.833
Learning Do you experience
Reporting 0.840 that you generally
talk about how the
6.2. NORMALITY
work can be 0.299 44 0.000 0.833 44 0.000
An assessment of the normality of data using SPSS software
is a prerequisite for many statistical tests as normal data is an improved in order to
underlying assumption in parametric testing. There are two lead to increased
main methods of assessing normality - numerically and
safety?
graphically. Table (6.2) presents the normality test result for
aircraft maintenance sector questionnaire data. From two well- Do you think the
known tests of normality, namely the Kolmogorov-Smirnov
management is
test and the Shapiro-Wilk test. The Shapiro-Wilk W test is 0.302 44 0.000 0.833 44 0.000
more appropriate for small sample sizes less than 2000 working for good
participants. For this reason, we will use the Shapiro-Wilk test safety?
as our numerical means of assessing normality. Using
normality test hypotheses where assuming (h0) as the observed Do you think the
distribution fits the normal distribution and (ha) as the work is carried out in 0.320 44 0.000 0.820 44 0.000
observed distribution does not fit the normal distribution. So if
a safe manner?
we accept the (h0), we accept the assumption of normality,
otherwise we have the alternative assumption (ha) which
indicate the non-normality of tested data. The Shapiro-Wilk (W) is insignificant if the variable's
distribution is not different from normal, W=1 when our
Table (6.2) Tests of Normality of safety culture aspects variables samplevariables data are perfectly normal (perfect h 0) and
When W is significantly smaller than 1 presents nonnormal
Kolmogorov-Smirnova Shapiro-Wilk (ha is accepted). Table (6.2) shows that the value of Sig.
(probabilities) in this case are less than 0.05 (the typical alpha
Statistic

Statistic

level), so we reject h 0, these data are significantly different


Sig.

Sig.
df

df

from normal, so we accept the alternative (ha) in which data is


not normally distributed. As the sample size increases,
Do you like your normality parameters becomes more restrictive and it becomes
0.362 44 0.000 0.634 44 0.000
job? harder to declare that the data is normally distributed.
According to we can check normality of the data using
nonparametric test, Table (6.3) Show the analysis using non-
parametric normality (Chi-Square) test for the Aircraft
maintenance Sector. That test illustrates in most rejecting the
first hypothesis (h 0) and accept the alternative hypothesis (h a)
of non-normality of the tested data.
can see from the normal Q-Q plot below the data is non-
normally distributed.

Figure (6.1) illustrates non-normality of data

Figure (6.2) illustrates non-normality of data


Table (6.3) Non-parametric normality One-Sample Chi-Square Test

Figure (6.3) illustrates non-normality of data

Normality of data can be tested graphically as above


mentioned. In order to determine normality graphically we can
Figure (6.4) illustrates non-normality of data
use the output of a normal Q-Q Plot Figure (6.1), Figure (6.2),
Figure (6.3) and Figure (6.4). If the data are normally
distributed then the data points will be close to the diagonal
line. If the data points stray from the line in an obvious non-
linear fashion then the data are not normally distributed. As we
with regard to safety culture aspects within each nine safety
culture aspect and they are as follow:

a. Work Situation safety culture aspect


The responses of the study samples in working situation
show that the average probable Mean=3.39 in Table (7.2) and
where most of the respondents experienced cooperation within
their work association as good. The respondents found that the
training given in order to perform their job in a safe way are
not enough from their point of view and during the research
interviews, there were some complain regarding getting more
training which in some cases the managers revealed to not
sufficient budget was assigned for training. There were
another indication that the workers are getting stressed during
the normal weekly job and there were feeling that the workers
don't find cooperation from their supervisor. In contrast, there
7. FINDING FREQUENCIES, PROBABLE MEANS AND were some positive responses that showed positivizes which
PERCENTAGE include finding well cooperation between workers during
It is very important to clarify and explain using (5 execution of their work, their perfect ability to use and handle
Grades Likert Scale), especially it is the basis stone in the machinery during their job.
assessing the data. Since the variables that express the
choices are (Strongly agree, Agree, No opinion, disagree and b. Flexibility safety culture aspect
strongly disagree) are all ordinal scales and the numbers The responses of the study samples in working situation
correspond to them are the Weights and they are (Strongly show that the average probable Mean=3.19 in Table (7.2) and
agree=5, agree=4, No opinion=3, disagree=2 and strongly the study concerning this safety culture concentrates on the
disagree=1). Then we calculate the mathematical average general acceptance of workers and their feeling that they have
(Probable Mean) by calculating the length of the period and in an area to behave with flexibility and that is shown through
our case is a result of dividing 4 by 5 where number 4 express their responses in the following items: There is consensus that
number of distances (1 to 2 is the first distance, 2 to 3 is the the experience and knowledge of all employees are
second distance, 3 to 4 is the third distance and 4 to 5 is the appreciated, when a problem arises, it is the most
fourth distance) and number 5 expresses number of choices. knowledgeable person who gets to solve it. It is acceptable to
When dividing 4 by 5, we gain the length of period and equal make suggestions for change concerning somebody elses area
(0.8), then the distribution became like Table (7.1) of responsibility?. In contrast, no indication of collaboration
and encouragement putting forward ideas and suggestions for
Table (7.1) illustrate grades of probable mean improvements concerning work.
Level Probable Mean
Strongly disagree 1 to 1.79 c. Communication in normal work safety culture aspect
Disagree 1.80 to 2.59 The responses of the study samples in working situation
Neutral 2.60 to 3.39 show that the average probable Mean=2.90 in Table (7.2) and
Agree 3.40 to 4.19 the communication between working teams and units was not
Strongly agree 4.20 to 5 considered by most respondents to function well. The results
showed that the staff rarely had the information they needed in
From questionnaire data and as mentioned above by using order to perform their work in a safe way. Most respondents
SPSS software, we calculate the frequencies, Mean, standard didn't receive clear instructions from the operative manager. A
deviation and variance for the purpose of assessing and negative finding concerning their training in how
comparison between variables for the variables listed in safety communication should function in an emergency situation.
culture aspect items. Results for the safety culture aspects will Respondents think the communication functions well during
consider the calculation of the percentage of negative change of shift (e.g. information at hand over). Some negative
responses by merging the alternatives 1-2, while positive responses were noticed that they agreed that there is no much
responses represented the alternatives 4-5 from the five-point information they receive about incidents and accidents.
scoring Likert scale- Table (7.1). In study researcher opinion.
d. Justness safety culture aspect
If 30% or more of the respondents give a negative response on
an item, this was considered as reflecting a problem in the The responses of the study samples in working situation
safety culture. show that the average probable Mean=3.10 in Table (7.2) and
in this part of the study the respondents were asked if they
thought it was not accepted that they sometimes made a
7.1 ASSESSING SAFETY CULTURE ASPECT
mistake in their work. Part of the majority respondents did not
Reviewing data analyses of the Mean, Standard Deviation hesitate to take initiative in their work because of fears of what
and Variance of safety culture nine aspects indicated in Table would happen if it turned out wrong, while another part
(7.2) for the aircraft maintenance sector illustrates differences
disagree to take initiative in their work. Those who perform the study found positive responses in items "Can you report
their work in a safe manner do not receive acknowledgment any misuse that affect safety?", "Is it acceptable to you that
for that. Large part of the respondents do not think that they somebody reports about your safety related mistake?" and
receive praise for calling attention to deficiencies in safety. "Does the management appreciate safety related problems
Positive responses were noticed of "If you have reported reporting?" which gave indication of relation to nearness of
something concerning the aircraft safety/air safety (orally or in positive safety culture.
writing), do you feel measures are taken within reasonable
Table (7.2) Mean, Standard Deviation and Variance
time".

St. Deviation

Variance
Safety culture aspects related

Mean

Level
e. Safety-related behaviors safety culture aspect to Aircraft Maintenance
The responses of the study samples in working situation Sector
show that the average probable Mean=2.61 in Table (7.2) and
the study shows that there are some positive responses that Safety culture aspect no.1-
3.39 0.76 0.67
Work Situation Neutral
exist in the following items: "Do your superiors encourage
Safety culture aspect no.2-
orderliness on the job?", Do you experience that your co- 3.19 1.07 1.26
Felexibilty Neutral
workers encourage one another to work safely?, "Does it occur Safety culture aspect no. 3-
that co-workers pressure you to take shortcuts in your work?" Communication in normal 2.90 0.92 0.87
and " Does it occur that middle management pressures you to work Neutral
take shortcuts in your work?". From the other hand there were Safety culture aspect no. 4-
some negative responses which exist in the following items: " 3.10 1.02 1.08
Justness Neutral
Do you experience that you generally talk about how the work Safety culture aspect no. 5-
2.61 0.97 0.98
can be improved in order to lead to increased safety?", " Do Safety related behavior Neutral
you think there are already safety rules applied in your job?", " Safety culture aspect no. 6-
3.23 0.92 0.88
Do you think the safety training on board is sufficient?"," Do Attitudes towards safety Neutral
you think the safety equipment on board is sufficient?" and " Safety culture aspect no. 7-
3.65 0.98 1.00
Do you think you receive sufficient training in what to do in Risk perception Agree
emergency situations?" Safety culture aspect no. 8-
3.00 1.06 1.21
Learning Neutral
Safety culture aspect no.9
2.94 1.04 1.17
-Reporting Neutral
f. Attitudes towards safety culture aspect In the field of aircraft maintenance staff sector, the nine
The responses of the study samples in working situation aspects of safety culture was negative in the sense that most of
show that the average probable Mean=3.23 in Table (7.2) and them had a Mean value below 3.4 on the five-point Likert
the study found the negative responses in most of the scale. Work situation, Flexibility, Communication in normal
questions concerning attitude toward safety and they are: "Do work, Justness, Attitudes towards safety, Learning, Reporting
you think the middle management is working for good and Safety related behavior received low mean values, while
safety?", "Do you think the management finds education and Risk perception received mean equal to 3.4 which is in the
training important?", "Do you think the management is sense of "Agree" of Likert scale. But the average Mean value
working for good safety?" and "How often have you taken of all nine safety culture aspects in aircraft maintenance sector
part in the planning for safety? (e.g. meetings, discussions)" M=3.11 which comes under the level of neutral level. That it
while the positive responses were in the following items: " Do comes in the area between negative and positive safety
you think safety exercises are useful/valuable?" and " Do you culture.
experience that working in a safe manner is appreciated from
the management?". 8. TESTING THE STUDY HYPOTHESES USING ONE SAMPLE T
g. Risk perception safety culture aspect TEST

The responses of the study samples in working situation -First main hypothesis (Null Hypothesis- H 0): this hypothesis
show that the average probable Mean=3.65 in Table (7.2) and assumes that there is positive safety culture at the study
the study addresses that half of the questions in this aspect had samples aircraft maintenance staff sector.
positively responses and the other half have negative answers
which indicate neutral level. -Second main hypothesis (Alternative Hypothesis- Ha): This
h. Learning safety culture aspect hypothesis assumes that there is negative safety culture at the
The responses of the study samples in working situation study samples of aircraft maintenance staff sector.
show that the average probable Mean=3.00 in Table (7.2) and
in this item, 2 answers have positive reply and the other 4 -The third hypothesis is to compare the mean of the answers of
have negative response and here they show negative direction
study samples of aircraft maintenance respondents with the
of safety culture.
probable mean of Liker scale in Table (7.1) by using one
i. Reporting safety culture aspect sample T test where the comparable value of mean is 3.4
The responses of the study samples in working situation which correspond to "Agree" response in the guided Likert
show that the average probable Mean=2.94 in Table (7.2) and scale Table (7.1). And reference to Table (7.1), Table (7.2)
and Table (8.1) A result shows T test failed to reveal a steps toward
statistically reliable difference between the average mean safety?
number of the nine safety culture aspects Table (7.2) which
equal to 3.11 and the guided Mean number of Likert Scale
Table (7.1) which equal (M=3.4). Also T test illustrates in
9. CONCLUSION
Table (8.1) that most values of significance (Sig.) are at less
than 0.05. These results revealed that the first hypothesis (Null Since the safety culture was studied using observations,
Hypothesis H0) failed to be ascertained and the alternative questionnaire packages, interviews, and collection of facts, the
hypothesis (Ha) is true which specify that the safety culture at nine scales representing the nine safety culture aspects were
the samples of aircraft maintenance sector is in the level of found to function well (with a good level of measurement
negative safety culture. reliability) in the aircraft maintenance sector settings.
Obtaining both questionnaire and interview data was valuable;
Table (8.1) One-Sample T test the questionnaire package allowed an establishment of
reference data concerning safety culture aspects in aircraft
Test Value = 3.4
maintenance sector. The interviews provided knowledge and
95%
(2-tailed)Sig.

examples of positive and negative expressions of safety


Mean Diff.

Confidence
Interval of the
culture that the interviewees had experienced in their work.
df
t

Difference The comparisons of average scores for safety culture aspects


Lower Upper showed that the aircraft maintenance sector generally had the
Do you have low average scores. Individual characteristics such as
access to the experience was found to have very little effect on how the
equipment in safety culture aspects were perceived and judged. It was found
order to 14.75 43 .000 0.7 0.6 0.8 that the learning processes are not so good. The
perform your communication was not considered by most respondents to
work in a safe function well. A negative finding concerning their training in
manner? how communication should function in an emergency
Have you been situation. Respondents think the communication functions
asked how to well during change of shift (e.g. information at hand over).
solve a problem 1.55 43 .129 0.2 -0.1 0.5 Some negative responses were noticed that it is not clear who
that arises at
work?
they should contact to discuss questions of safety?, they
Do you think
agreed that there is no much information they receive about
you have incidents and accidents.
received Reporting in aircraft maintenance sector is showing better in
sufficient this aspect.
training in how -10.46 43 .000 -1.3 -1.6 -1.1
communication 10. RECOMMENDATION
should work in
emergency Further research in the safety culture should concentrate on;
situations? -Developing methods for assessing the behavioral and
Do you think it situational areas of safety culture.
has been made -Testing the relation of safety culture to safety management.
clear were the -Determining which aspects and items are important for
line is drawn measurement of safety culture, for example, in order to
for acceptable 1.27 43 .210 0.2 -0.1 0.5 reduce
and the questionnaire package to an essential minimum, and
unacceptable -Finding indications concerning what elements influence
behavior at
safety
work?
behaviors, and how they exert this influence.
Do you think
there are -Transitioning from a Safety Culture measurement stage to an
already safety -5.43 43 .000 -0.9 -1.2 -0.5 improvement stage is an essential and big issue, make it
rules applied in needs
your job? to learn how to improve, and share lessons gained from
Do you think previous different safety culture practice.
safety exercises -More researches are recommended in the category of pilots to
are 13.27 43 .000 1.1 0.9 1.3 have full and completed idea about safety culture and having
useful/valuable more knowledge to improve aviation sector and try to catch
? up
Do you think 3.56 43 .001 0.6 0.2 0.9 the speedy advancement existed in aviation field.
there is need to
encourage the
others to take References
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