The EUROCONTROL safety culture programme for European air traffic management (ATM) has been underway since 2003 and is now well established. The approach comprises a number of stages, including kick-off, launch, questionnaire, workshops, reporting and feedback, action planning and review/after-care.
Following a safety culture survey, there is a focus on ensuring sustained action and continuous improvement. To ensure that the enthusiasm and understanding is retained, people need to continue to talk about safety culture – reflecting on what they do, how they do it, and why.
To help continue the conversation post-survey, the concepts and issues in the safety culture survey report need to become the safety culture 'currency' of the Air Navigation Service Provider itself, not left in a report on a shelf.
The EUROCONTROL Safety Culture Discussion Cards (Shorrock, 2012a, 2012b) are a practical resource to aid real discussion about safety culture by any person or team within the ANSP, including staff and managers in air traffic operations (e.g. air traffic controllers, aeronautical information services personnel), maintenance staff, specialist staff and support staff (e.g. safety, quality, projects, human resources, legal, etc). The cards use the same concepts as the survey methodology, though everyday language is used to make the cards completely accessible. The cards can be used without the need for external support.
The cards have six key aims:
- Engage: The cards are a tool for potentially any individual or group who wishes to use them. They should promote ownership and provoke discussion.
- Educate: The cards enhance and build on users’ existing understanding of safety culture from their operational or non-operational experience. They do not give answers, but rather raise questions for discussion from a comprehensive database of issues.
- Enable flexible use: There are several possible ‘games’ or uses for the cards. Five possibilities are described, but users may use the cards however they wish. The cards are physical artefacts, but may also be used digitally, e.g. on smartphones.
- Reinforce memory: The content, especially the headlines and pictures, is designed to be memorable so that users can recognise or even aspects of the cards when they are not using them.
- Link to theory: While the cards are a tool for discussion and reflection rather than a method for measurement, they are based on a model of safety culture and represent a comprehensive range of issues from theory and around 20 ANSP surveys. The cards bridge the gap between research and practice.
- Improve safety culture: The cards ultimately help the users to think of ways to improve safety culture – and inspire them to take action based on the results.
Development of the cards
The cards build on the existing EUROCONTROL Safety Culture Survey Method. This approach helped to ensure that the cards are valid in terms of the theory of safety culture. The content of the cards was therefore driven primarily by the EUROCONTROL safety culture questionnaire for ANSPs, as well as the findings of many previous surveys of ANSPs.
Cover card for Safety Culture Discussion Cards - Edition 2
Format of the cards
The physical cards are printed in colour on A6 card. They are available in several European languages. The first few cards in the pack explain (very briefly) what safety culture is, show the organisation of the cards (around the EUROCONTROL safety culture elements), and explain some possibilities for using the cards. Then, the discussion cards are sorted into eight elements.
Click on any card below to see the complete collection.
|1. Management Commitment
||2. Procedure & Training
||3. Staffing & Equipment
||4. Just Culture, Reporting & Investigation
'Who cares about safety?'
|5. Communication & Learning
||6. Risk Handling
||7. Collaboration & Involvement
'Us, or us and them'
'Know your relevance'
'Involve. Get involved'
There are several discussion cards for each element, and each card shares a common formula in terms of design elements.
- Follow-up question;
There are 74 cards in total.
Using the cards
There is no set method for using the cards but several cards are used to provide ideas for how the cards might be used. The options described include the following:
- Method 1: Pick a card
- Method 2: One from three
- Method 3: Schein's cycle
- Method 4: Compare views
- Method 5: Focus on...
- Method 6: Asset-based safety
- Method 7: World cafe
- Method 8: Influence map
- Method 9: Textual analysis
- Method 10: Solution-focus
The EUROCONTROL Safety Culture Discussion Cards (Shorrock, 2012a, 2012b) are a practical resource to aid discussion about safety culture by any person or team within an organisation, in aviation and beyond. In the context of air traffic management, this includes staff and managers in air traffic operations (e.g. air traffic controllers, aeronautical information services personnel), maintenance staff, specialist staff and support staff (e.g. safety, quality, projects, human resources, legal, etc).
The cards use the same concepts as the EUROCONTROL safety culture programme method, which has been used in over 30 air navigation service providers. The cards use everyday language to make the approach completely accessible, and can be used without the need for external support.
The Safety Culture Discussion Cards are now available in Edition 2, in several languages. They may be used in accordance with the copyright statement included in the cards (see final card).
- Kirwan, B. and Shorrock, S.T. (2014). A view from elsewhere: Safety culture in European air traffic management. In P. Waterson (Ed.), Patient safety culture: Theory, methods and application. Ashgate.
- Noort, M.C., Reader, T.W., Shorrock, S.T. and Kirwan, B. (2016). The relationship between national culture and safety culture: implications for international safety culture assessments. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/joop.12139
- Reader, T.W., Noort, M.C., Shorrock, S.T. and Kirwan, B. (2015). Safety san frontières: an international safety culture model. Risk Analysis: An International Journal, 35(5), 770-789. DOI: 10.1111/risa.12327
- Shorrock, S.T. (2012a). Safety culture in your hands: Discussion cards for understanding and improving safety culture. In M. Anderson (Ed.), Contemporary ergonomics and human factors 2012. London: Taylor and Francis, pp. 321-328.
- Shorrock, S. (2012b). Safety culture in your hands. The Controller: Journal of Air Traffic Control, April 2012.
- Shorrock, S.T., Mearns, K., Liang, C., and Kirwan, B. (2011). Developing a safety culture questionnaire for European air traffic management: Learning from experience. In M. Anderson (Ed.), Contemporary ergonomics and human factors 2011. London: Taylor and Francis.
- Tear, M.J., Reader, T.W., Shorrock, S. and Kirwan, B. (2018). Safety culture and power: interactions between perceptions of safety culture, organisational hierarchy, and national culture. Safety Science, 121, 550-561. DOI: 10.1016/j.ssci.2018.10.014