EASA Part CAMO HF & SMS – Considering The Role of Violations in our Aviation System

Introduction by Sofema Aviation Services

What do we mean by Violations?

Violations typically involve deliberately (and consciously) departing from known and established rules or procedures.

The fundamental difference between errors and violations is that violations are deliberate, whereas errors are not. In other words, committing a violation is a conscious decision, whereas errors occur irrespective of one’s will to avoid them.

There are many reasons why people violate for example:

1. The natural human tendency to take the path of least resistance, and

2. An indifferent environment, i.e. an organisation, or Industry, that rarely punishes violations or rewards compliance

3. An organisation that places greater value on getting the job done rather than how it is done

Violations may become routine when a violation becomes what is normally done (the norm) within your workplace

a) Personally, optimizing violations

b) Organizationally optimizing violations

Routine violations may be short cuts that are taken to help you get the job done more quickly, more easily, or perhaps more efficiently.

Note 1 - Unless you monitor and control this (willingness to Violate) behavior, it can lead to a culture that tolerates violations.

Note 2 -  Violations are classified within Human Factors as one category of an “unsafe act”; the other category contains all “errors”.

Note 3 - It is possible that someone unaware of a procedure will violate it, clearly without knowing. One could say, then, that this was not a deliberate act, despite it being a violation. Such scenarios do occur and the root cause is usually found within organisational factors rather than human.

Note 4 - It is important to realize that when negative consequences do occur as a result of a violation (apart from sabotage), the person committing the violation typically did not intend the dramatic negative consequences. Instead they believed that the situation remained under control despite the violation.

This is why violations often do not demand punishment.

Types of Violation

Unintentional Violations arise from procedures that are impossible for people to follow, often because they are confusing, complex and ambiguous.

Routine Violations result from automatic and sometimes unconscious behavior. They are habitual actions (strong, but wrong, habits) accepted by the particular workgroup as normal business, and are often tolerated by the organisation and/or governing body.

Situational Violations are the result of organisational and environmental factors that make it difficult for employees not to commit violations. These factors include time pressure, lack of supervision, poor ambient conditions (e.g. light, noise, heat), insufficient resources, and a negative culture.

  •  Situational violations tend to occur at the rule-based level, where people take actions deemed necessary to get the job done.

Optimizing Violations occur when people try to make a task more exciting or interesting to impress others or to relieve boredom. These are common when people are involved in long periods of monotonous work, such as monitoring tasks, or when the rules are restrictive or outdated.

Exceptional Violations are rare occurrences that take place in very unusual circumstances (e.g. emergencies, equipment failure). They can be the result of a conscious decision to violate or an instinctive reaction to the situation. Routine violations tend to occur at the skill-based level – they have become part of a person’s automated routine.

  • Exceptional violations tend to occur at the knowledge-based level as they are mostly occurring in unique and unfamiliar circumstances.


Next Steps

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