Intentional or Unintentional - It is still predictable risk?
Published: Wed 17 Apr 2019
The recent closure of the Gatwick Runway in Dec 2018 was covered in a Panorama documentary. It highlighted the cost of disruption to 140,000 passengers and the airlines which alone lost 50 million pounds.
The recent closure of the Gatwick Runway in Dec 2018 was covered in a Panorama documentary. It highlighted the cost of disruption to 140,000 passengers and the airlines which alone lost 50million pounds. The thrust of the documentary is that the drone flying was a deliberate act of sabotage from someone or a group with detailed inside knowledge of the operation of Gatwick airport. It left me wondering whether this dreadful event was predictable, and/or could it have been avoided.
Drone Incursion Risk
It is clear that the Airport management had procedures in place to manage a drone incursion. Drone incursions have happened at airports before (a good indicator of risk!). The question is whether such an intentional sabotage, as happened at Gatwick, should have been anticipated. When this was put to the Aviation Minister, she did not agree that the risk was obvious. In the context of the modern world and the general threats to airports and aviation this may be regarded as a strange approach to take to a risk that probably cost over a hundred million pounds.
Parallels with Healthcare
There are many parallels with Risk Management in Healthcare. We can plan and take action to mitigate risks that are predictable even if they are unintentional as is mostly the case. There have however been some highly publicised cases where the harm was indeed intentional so how do we plan for those situations? We too often concentrate on who the perpetrator might be rather on the systems that might have identified and prevented the incident. It is also right to have systems to manage those involved. All processes are important. In this situation the focus appeared to be on finding the perpetrator and holding them accountable.
Accountability is a key component of any risk system but it goes parallel with good processes and controls that anticipate and manage the risk that eventuates. Passengers stranded for days just prior to Christmas would suggest that there were shortcomings.
Trust in Risk Management
If we are to have trust in Risk Management then we need to anticipate that from time to time someone will break the rules deliberately. It is also important to acknowledge that the majority of people do not break known safety rules deliberately.
Safety systems and processes need to take this into account.
Day 2 of the June 2019 London Conference will cover incidents of both genres. It will be interesting to listen to different perspectives with a view to learning how to prevent and manage these situations. As with many of these intentional incidents, they are predictable. It is perhaps the time and the place that is not.
Risky Business events are different from anything else in the safety world. Through the sharing of ideas outside one's own sphere of expertise, we can understand risk, quality and safety from different perspectives.