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CHC Safety & Quality Summit impressing once again

April 1, 2014 – It’s easily one of the most thought-provoking and well-organized industry events and the 10th annual CHC Safety & Quality Summit is once again hitting on all cylinders.


April 1, 2014
By Matt Nicholls

April 1, 2014 – It’s easily one of the most thought-provoking and well-organized industry events and the 10th annual CHC Safety & Quality Summit is once again hitting on all cylinders.

The event kicked off at Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore Hotel with a number of stirring presentations March 31. In his opening remarks kicking off the conference, CHC president and CEO Bill Amelio dissected three prominent examples where pushing boundaries and trusting established safety practices failed to prevent disaster.

In the helicopter services industry where operators are working in some of the most hostile environments possible, pushing the limits and taking risks can lead to serious consequences, Amelio noted. Operators need to “challenge accepted theories and break down barriers, find the reality of the reality” to fixed flawed perceptions and practices to find a sound safety paradigm.

Amelio used the example of the death of famed Formula One race car driver Ayrton Senna in 1994 at the San Marino Grand Prix to illustrate how small incremental changes following a tragic event – both philosophical and from a technology perspective – can lead to industry-wide improvements. Uniting as to work together through awareness, alliance and action can lead to stronger industry outcomes as whole. Such practices are currently being followed in the offshore industry to help create the safest working environment possible.

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Amelio used another example, the tragic deaths of 96 people on April 15, 1989 at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England during a soccer match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, to illustrate how poor design and a violation of existing rules can lead to tragedy. Helicopter professional must work diligently to prevent such careless practices in their own operations, he said.

Finally, the tragic crash of a P-51D Mustang at the Reno Air Race on September 16 in Reno, Nevada that killed 10 people and injured 69 others showed that safety procedures were ignored in a number of instances – from the modifications to reduce drag on the aircraft without factoring in related pilot competencies, to the layout of the course – leading to tragedy. Cutting corners, not properly analyzing incremental changes, not understanding the end game led to a major incident and cannot be accepted. The constant application of new standards and competencies is necessary throughout the industry to must take place to reduce accidents, focusing on the outcomes and not necessarily the origin of those events.

Amelio’s opening remarks were followed by a pair of engaging presentations from Dr. Tony Kern, the founding partner and CEO of Convergent Performance and Dr. Sidney Dekker, Professor, Safety Science Innovation Lab at Griffith University. Kern gave an engaging presentation about the safety lessons that can be learned when analyzing the behaviour of animals in their natural and predatory settings, and reminded the 800 attendees how sensory change, response and adaptation can be potent tools in the safety survival game. Tapping into our various levels of awareness are invaluable in operating and disseminating key information in our daily environments. Losing self-awareness always precedes the lost of situational awareness – a state that very often leads to safety lapses and potential accidents.

Dekker’s animated presentation offered up a historical analysis of accident evaluation, a breakdown of organization processes and a preconceived set of norms that often are not entirely correct. It was an interesting and analysis that signaled all attendees that this year’s 10th anniversary of this popular event will certainly not disappoint.

The event continues through Wednesday with a variety of safety and quality improvement sessions.