At Belfast City Airport, we took part in the first AOA UK Airports Safety Week and have been holding a full week of events in May each year ever since, with other safety events held throughout the year, including an annual Winter OPS Safety Day. We’ve found it to be a great way to bring the airport community together to focus on safety from many different aspects: airside, landside, passengers, emergency services, suppliers, and so on, as well as local government, schools & community.
Each year the airport community works together to produce a schedule of events, contributing from their own knowledge and experience. Many different organisations have put themselves forward to lead the way in hosting events in their areas of expertise, championing best practice and encouraging everyone to enhance safety, making the overall running a lot easier. Many more attend the events and come away better informed and more aware of their safety responsibilities.
We have found that ‘drop-in’ events and short challenges work better for us than presentations or courses for a set time period, as operational staff are better able to attend. Free food and give-aways are always popular and having ‘runners’ in place to encourage staff in restrooms along to events is a great help. The PR team assist by updating social media throughout the week and we’ve added another BCA staff member dedicated to building momentum prior to the week and encouraging attendance at events during it by being physically out & about, posting on notice boards, internal social media and staff entry screens, among other mediums.
Overall, we believe in the concept and find holding these types of events to be very productive in generating discussion and raising awareness across the business and wider community of the parts we all play in the safety and security of the airport.
OVERVIEW of the 2019 AOA UK Airports Safety Week at Belfast City Airport:
BCA OPS kicked off the week with a FOD (Foreign Object Debris) search on the apron, awarding spot prizes for finds, this kept the risk of FOD topical & encouraged reporting of hazards.
An advanced driving instructor facilitated practical driving sessions for airfield drivers through a staged course, designed to refresh knowledge & skills to enhance driver ability in anticipating dangers & avoiding collisions.
Clece Care Services (PRM) invited staff across the airport to pop in to view a range of their short training videos as an insight into what they offer at the airport, increasing our awareness of a range of disabilities, to better understand how we can assist.
SwissPort ramp teams offered the opportunity for staff, particularly new starts in AFS & ATC, to sit in on aircraft pushbacks throughout the week, with the view from the tug giving them another perspective & rounded knowledge.
Dr Marion Gibson held two fully subscribed & inspirational half day training courses on ‘Focus on People Care in the aftermath of a Crisis’ where we learnt techniques to enhance our future responses.
We visited Knocknagoney Primary School to share in a ‘Time to Read’ focusing on safety at the airport and the seaside with workbooks supplied by the Coastguard, a member of the airport Emergency Planning Committee.
The OPS Supervisor staged a ‘Hazard Room’ focusing on FOD, a fun ‘Countdown’ meets ‘The Generation Game’ style competition where ‘contestants’ were each given 1 minute in the room to spot / remember as many items of FOD, and 4 FOD poster slogans, as they could while the clock counted down. They were then given 2 minutes outside the room to list as many as they could on their entry. Every contestant received a BCA email@example.com branded radio, pen, tyre tread gauge & mints and additional prizes were awarded for 1st & 2nd places. The event was a huge success drawing in staff from a wide range of companies and encouraging discussion on their part in safety at the airport.
Pets As Therapy came into the Departures Lounges, meeting our passengers and staff with various dogs, alleviating stresses and encouraging well-being, putting lots of smiles on faces.
The Airport Fire Service hosted 3 sessions on CPR & Defibrillator practice for staff and passengers, building knowledge & confidence to perhaps assist in saving a life one day. These were well received, having had 3 successful defibrillations at the airport in the last year. Being a coastal airport, Coastguard ‘Seaside Safety’ was also run at these, handing out information to adults & workbooks to children ahead of summer.
The Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) shared presentations on ‘People Trafficking Awareness’ to open the eyes of our staff and enable them to learn what to look out for and who to contact for help if they suspect something.
NorthAir took a group on an interesting tour of the airport fuel farm, an area usually out-of- bounds to most, to highlight the vast range of controls and testing in place to ensure the safety of the into-plane refuelling service.
A member of the World Duty Free team came landside for the day dressed as a Lithium Battery to remind passengers at check-in of the dangers of these and where to pack them.
The first of our three new fire appliances came onto the main apron for staff to have a look around and improve understanding of challenges faced by large vehicles on the apron.
NATS ATC visited Kernan Aviation flying school to education on how to avoid airspace infringements and share lessons learnt from investigations.
An aerodrome safeguarding table-top exercise on drones ran through a scenario of an un-notified drone sighting in the FRZ (Flight Restriction Zone) with internal and external bodies (ATC, OPS, Security, AFS, Harbour Police, PR) working through their planned responses and actions. This provided a better understanding of our actions in the event of an incident, built relationships, showed where to focus attention to improve procedures, led to further training of staff and encouraged scheduling of live system tests involving relevant bodies.
Our charity partners, SOS, were onsite with their mascot, Harvey the dog, to raise awareness & funds for the valued service in Belfast. Trained volunteers and medical staff operate from specifically designed and equipped vehicles deploying satellite foot and mobile patrols to extended areas of need, ensuring that professional caring services are delivered to the vulnerable in times of crisis.
OPS offered the chance for staff to ride-along in their airfield patrols to see the airport from another perspective and better understand their role in keeping the airfield safe.
BCA Duty Manager facilitated a visit from ‘Disability Assistance Dogs’ on a familiarisation journey through the airport & out to an aircraft. ‘Storm’, a labradoodle, is an assistance dog for diabetes & ‘Goose’, a Newfoundland, is an assistance dog for MS.
AFS opened their doors to staff and their children to see around the fire station & appliances, getting a feel for the work they do on the airfield.
Throughout the week there were spot prizes and the opportunity to enter a prize draw for an I-pad by completing a 12-question safety survey & feedback to help assess safety culture at the airport, identifying any improvements we can make to it & to Safety Week itself. This survey has identified our safety culture trends over the years.