Unsurprisingly, human performance involves things that impact the effectiveness of staff in safely performing their duties. With people working under pressure in challenging situations, it is incredibly important to consider the human-factor risks to your operations and then support your staff in achieving the best they can in these challenging times.
Follow-up work on each safety issue and mitigations
This information will be updated as the work of assessing each of the safety issues and developing potential mitigations progresses.
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Safety issues on human performance
Personnel may not feel safe and in control about returning to work
Personnel will be returning to duty with a higher than normal psychological stress, potentially reducing staff performance and increasing safety risks. Organisations and authorities need to understand and develop strategies to mitigate against this.
Decreased well-being of aviation professionals during shutdown
The pandemic is a significant source of anxiety, stress and uncertainty for almost everyone. Worries about unemployment for aviation staff and their relatives may be exacerbated. During the shutdown, with people working from home and therefore isolated from normal support, the personal well-being of professionals is likely to have suffered. For those working, this may lead to task distraction/interruption, workload/task saturation, instructions or requirements not followed. Regardless of whether personnel are working, are employed, furloughed or unemployed, we have a duty of care to support the well-being of aviation professionals.
Aviation personnel fatigue
With redundancy and furlough reducing the available number of personnel, those left working may have to work additional hours. The preparation for and the eventual return to (new) normal operations will require significant additional effort in comparison with actual normal operations. These may both contribute to rising levels of fatigue.
Flight crew fatigue due to unavailability of rest facilities at destination or extended duty period
At certain destinations, crews are required to stay on board the aircraft and neither hotels nor restaurants are available. Where crews can leave the airport, extended duty periods may occur due to health checks and the need for physical distancing, making leaving/ re-entering the airport a longer process.
Personnel no longer working collaboratively
Significant gaps in working, or working from home, may have reduced people’s ability to work collaboratively. This may exacerbate problems with team-work and communication while wearing PPE.
Reduced adherence to procedures in the new working environment
Reduced operations and underload may create a belief that the level of risk within the operating environment has substantially reduced, causing staff to become less sensitive to risk with the possibility that they are less alert/ procedures are not completely followed.
Roster adaptations to reduce transmission of illness may create different team behaviours
To reduce the risk of virus transmission, some organisations have created rostered groups of personnel who work together, with the different groups never meeting one another. There is a risk that these groups will develop their own dynamics leading to deviations from procedures.