Number 2013/04/10-034 (l) PP. Author: Great Lakes FAASTeam Program Manager; POC Phil Randall, AFS-850, Greensboro FSDO, 336-369-3948; Review/Revision 1 by Mark Kimmel and Pete Wilhelmson, AFS-850.
What do you think of when we say Norms as it relates to performing maintenance.? Norms can be good or bad. Can you share a Norm you or your company has or is performing? So, what are Norms? Let’s take a look.
Some of you may recognize this image. It is from a previous FAASTeam Dirty Dozen Calendar. Norms was the maintenance error causal factor for October. As stated here, Norms are standard practices, usually undocumented, adopted by an organization or group. The existing norms do not necessarily make a “practice” right or enhance safety.
This is another image some of you may recognize. It is one of the Dirty Dozen posters that have been offered by the FAASTeam. Safety nets are actions you can adopt to reduce or prevent maintenance error due to “NORMS”. Safety Nets for NORMS are: Always work per the instructions. If they are incorrect, take action to have them changed. Be aware of norms. Remember that just because it is the normal way things get done does not make it right.
Norms are standard practices, rules of behavior, usually undocumented. Norms are usually developed to solve problems that have ambiguous solutions. A side effect of working in teams is the use of norms to guide a person’s behavior. For example, a maintenance team may meet regularly before and after a shift is over or even socially, during days off. If this meeting is not required by the organization, but expected by the team members, then it is a norm. Norms are omnipresent in society. Norms are expected, yet implicit rules for behavior. That is, norms dictate fundamental rules of dress, speech, and basic interaction. Because they are rules for behavior that define others’ expectations, norms facilitate social interaction by reducing the number of surprises one may encounter in a given social context. Violation of a norm can prove distressing. For example, a group of maintenance technicians may vigorously enforce the wearing of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when at work. Not wearing PPE may be not only a source of concern for the norm breaker, but may also elicit negative reactions from those who conform. In this case, others in the surrounding group may sanction the norm breaker. Norms are usually developed to solve to problems that have ambiguous solutions. When faced with an ambiguous situation, an individual may use another’s behavior as a frame of reference around which to form his or her own reactions. As this process continues, group norms develop and stabilize. Newcomers to the situation are then accepted into the group based on adherence to norms. Very rarely do newcomers initiate change in a group with established norms.
Norms are short cuts or unapproved practices. These will eventually get you in “Hot Water”. Norms are encouraged or tolerated by the group. What norms are you encouraged….or pressured to follow? Have you adopted or engaged in a behavior that you know is a deviation from an approved practice? Why do Norms have the potential to cause damaging errors? Years ago a DC-10 crashed in Chicago because a “short cut” was adopted in removing and replacing an engine. It was a “good idea at the time and did save time. However that Norm eventually killed all the people on board!
Norms can have a Positive or a Negative effect.
So, what are some positive NORMS? One that attributes to efficiency and productivity………or reduces risk. This could be something like a verbal shift turnovers always takes place even though the organizational procedure requires documentation in a turnover ledger. Encourage and lead a discussion to get audience to share some other positive NORMs
Simple stated Negative Norms are ineffective and can have a negative impact on the organization. Notice the person standing on the top of the ladder, that is placed on top of a stand. Is this the way it happens at your facility? Ask audience to share some other Negative NORMS.
Corporate culture can (and often does) breed both positive and negative norms. It can either encourage or discourage norms. If you work for a company can you share it’s Corporate Culture? Are you encouraged to speak up when things are not right or is best to keep your mouth shut and go along? If you’re a self employed or independent AMT, what is your safety culture? Have you adopted any negative or positive Norms?
Just because a norm is the way that it has always been done does not make it right. Often they are handed down practices from “seasoned” AMT’s to new “fledgling” AMT’s. Negative norms can be the holes in the cheese. When the holes line up undesirable things can happen. They can be a time bomb, just waiting for the right event to trigger it. You can be assured if it is triggered your life may change in an instant. You could be facing disciplinary action, enforcement or heavy legal bills. However the worst ever is the mental anguish if your negative norm caused loss of life!!
How can you tell if it is a positive or negative norm. Ask the question. Does the norm enhance or detract from an established procedure?
Stepping over the tow bar during pushback. Working without using a maintenance manual. Leaving running vehicles unattended. Signing for work not done in order to get the aircraft out on time. These are all NEGATIVE NORMS. All these have a potential for disaster.
Read the list. For you who have children have you ever cautioned your child from running with scissors…….or anything else that could harm them? The list could go on and on, right? Have you practiced routine activity that are considered a positive or negative NORM?
Create a list of NORMS where you work. Then separate into two lists, one for the Good or Positive Norms and one for the Bad or Negative Norms. Now, what do you do with this list?
Take action to adjust your personal behavior patterns to eliminate the Negative Norms. If you take the right approach you CAN influence your AMT partners to do the same. Challenge them to think about what they are doing and the consequences if things go “south”. Remember the true sign of a true maintenance professional is doing the right thing even when nobody is watching!
This concludes our presentation. Time for questions of comments. (Record comments for subsequent QMS feedback). Promote each of the bullet items. Encourage registration on faasafety.gov and promote the Maintenance Hanger. Advise the participants about other offered features on the website. Solicit feedback via telephone, e-mail or use the web link provided.
Federal AviationAdministration55Norms are standard practices, rules ofNorms are standard practices, rules ofbehavior, usually undocumented.behavior, usually undocumented.Norms are usually developed to solveNorms are usually developed to solveproblems that have ambiguous solutions.problems that have ambiguous solutions.A side effect of working in teams is theA side effect of working in teams is theuse of norms to guide a person’s behavior.use of norms to guide a person’s behavior.
Federal AviationAdministration66NORMSNORMSAre short cuts or unapproved practices.Are short cuts or unapproved practices.Are encouraged or tolerated by the group.Are encouraged or tolerated by the group.Have the potential to cause damaging errors.Have the potential to cause damaging errors.
Federal AviationAdministration77TYPES OF NORMSTYPES OF NORMSPositivePositiveNegativeNegative
Federal AviationAdministration88POSITIVE NORMSPOSITIVE NORMSAre effective and appear to have anAre effective and appear to have anoverall positive impact on theoverall positive impact on theorganization.organization.
Federal AviationAdministration99NEGATIVE NORMSNEGATIVE NORMSAre ineffective and can have a negativeAre ineffective and can have a negativeimpact on the organization.impact on the organization.
Federal AviationAdministration1010CORPORATE CULTURECORPORATE CULTURECan (often does) breed both positive andCan (often does) breed both positive andnegative norms.negative norms.Can either encourage or discourage normsCan either encourage or discourage norms
Federal AviationAdministration1111That’s the wayThat’s the waywe dowe dothings aroundthings aroundhere!here!
Federal AviationAdministration1212DISTINGUISH THE POSITIVEDISTINGUISH THE POSITIVEFROM THE NEGATIVEFROM THE NEGATIVE Does the norm enhance or detract fromDoes the norm enhance or detract froman established procedure?an established procedure?
Federal AviationAdministration1313EXAMPLES OF NORMSEXAMPLES OF NORMSStepping over the tow bar during pushback.Stepping over the tow bar during pushback.Working without using a maintenance manual.Working without using a maintenance manual.Leaving running vehicles unattended.Leaving running vehicles unattended.Signing for work not done in order to get theSigning for work not done in order to get theaircraft out on timeaircraft out on time
Federal AviationAdministration1414EXAMPLES OF NORMSEXAMPLES OF NORMS Pushing the aircraft back without usingPushing the aircraft back without usinga safety guide person.a safety guide person. Signing off someone else’s workSigning off someone else’s workwithout ensuring proper completion.without ensuring proper completion. Verbal turnover.Verbal turnover. Running with scissors.Running with scissors.
Federal AviationAdministration1515WHAT TO DO ABOUT NORMS?WHAT TO DO ABOUT NORMS?Look for the norms we use and live withLook for the norms we use and live withat work.at work.Distinguish the positive norms from theDistinguish the positive norms from thenegative norms.negative norms.
Federal AviationAdministration1616WHAT TO DO ABOUT NORMS?WHAT TO DO ABOUT NORMS?Do this by discussing them and usingDo this by discussing them and usingyour influence in the group to changeyour influence in the group to changethe negative norms.the negative norms.If you’re sure,If you’re sure, maintain your standard !maintain your standard !
Federal AviationAdministration1717ConclusionConclusion Questions or comments?Questions or comments? FAASafety.govFAASafety.gov AMT Awards ProgramAMT Awards Program GA Awards ProgramGA Awards Program We want your feedbackWe want your feedback• http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquartehttp://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/stakeholder_feedback/afs/field/sf_rs_offices/avs/stakeholder_feedback/afs/field/sf_faasteam/faasteam/
Federal AviationAdministration1818Thank you.Thank you.