Safety Objectives

Safety Objectives


Safety objective. A brief, high-level statement of safety achievement or desired outcome to be accomplished by the State safety programme or service provider's safety management system.

Source: ICAO Doc 9859: Safety Management Manual


Safety objectives are short, high-level statements of the organization's safety priorities that address its most significant safety risks. They provide direction to the organization's activities and should therefore be consistent with the safety policy that sets out the high-level safety commitment. Safety objectives may be included in the safety policy or documented separately but in any case they define what the organization intends to achieve in terms of safety.  They are also useful to communicate safety priorities to personnel and the aviation community as a whole. Establishing safety objectives provides strategic direction for the safety performance management process and provides the basis for safety related decision-making. The management of safety performance should be a primary consideration when amending policies or processes, or allocating the organization's resources towards improving safety performance.

Safety objectives may be:

  • process-oriented: stated in terms of safe behaviours expected from operational personnel or the performance of actions implemented by the organization to manage safety risk; example: "increase safety reporting levels".
  • outcome-oriented: encompass actions and trends regarding containment of accidents or operational losses; example: ''reduce the rate of safety events'' (high level objective) or ''reduce the number of runway incursions compared to the previous year'' (lower level objective).

The suite of safety objectives normally includes a mix of both process-oriented and outcome-oriented objectives to provide enough coverage and direction for the safety performance indicators (SPIs) and safety performance targets (SPTs). SPIs and SPTs are needed to monitor the achievement of the safety objectives.

Safety objectives on their own do not have to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely (SMART), provided that they, together with the accompanying SPIs and SPTs form a package that allows an organization to demonstrate whether it is maintaining or improving its safety performance.

An organization may also choose to identify safety objectives at the tactical or operational level or apply them to specific projects, products and processes.

A safety objective may also be expressed by the use of other terms with a similar meaning (e.g. goal or target).

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Further Reading

  • Source: ICAO Doc 9859: Safety Management Manual

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