NSC Innovation Award
The National Safety Council on May 12 presented its prestigious Green Cross for Safety Award, the Innovation Award, to United Airlines Corporate Safety in partnership with University of New Haven. The NSC criteria for this honor are defined as follows:
“This award recognizes a corporation…that has forged a new path and achieved success by approaching a long-held safety challenge with a fresh look or new idea. The approach should be evidence-based, with results impacting themselves or others. Area of focus may include home, community, workplace, transportation or any combination.”
This prestigious Council teaches and recognizes approaches to safety. It highlights Safety Management Systems as an effective tool for reducing risks.
In 2010 when United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged, they had a long punch list of things that the formerly-two-now-one airline must do to achieve full integration. High among priorities was the FAA-mandated implementation of SMS for all of the company’s operational units (5,000 commercial flights a day to 342 airports worldwide): bridging languages, local safety cultures, establishing a uniform method of entry/analysis of the data and creating the internal trust that makes this powerful tool work.
Michael Quiello, United’s vice president of corporate safety and a 1975 University of New Haven engineering graduate, recognized that his alma mater might provide the added capacity to help implement SMS in a timely basis. The UNH Center for Analytics helped design and implement a Data Visualization project, which is now regarded as the leading edge platform for collecting and managing data. The dozens of UNH interns gained unparalleled field experiences and based on their work, they collaboratively developed a robust, real time, transparent user friendly and efficient system.
Both UNH and United point proudly at the results as measured in positive, objective outcomes—over the last two years, property damage was diminished by 23 percent and injuries lowered by 11 percent, plus out on the tarmacs, airport operations injuries were reduced by 20 percent.
The airline has published an SMS newsletter which is distributed regularly and shares the intelligence and new practices generated by the system to all United employees. Further, the predictive nature of this discipline identified deteriorating flight skills and resulted in a remedial training program for all pilots before any dire consequence.
“The Green Cross safety award is highly competitive and is fitting recognition for the work the UNH students have done,” Quiello said. “This partnership has had tangible results for United and for the students. It was the ideal internship from both the corporate and the educational standpoint.”
The Flight Safety Foundation recognized the FAA for its new Safety Compliance programs. That award reflects a very macro level of work in advancing SMS; the National Safety Council’s award highlights the micro level advantages of this new risk reduction methodology. All safety professionals should take note of the hard work and results of the United/UNH partnership.