|Airports represent highly complex organisations, incorporating such interdependent operations as airlines, ground transport, flight services, ground services, refuelling, maintenance, customer services, catering, administration and security. Airports, and especially International Airports, must ensure that their operations are conducted in a safe manner, as the consequence of any error or failure during operations has the potential for catastrophic outcomes. The international governing body for air transportation, ICAO, requires that Airports must implement a Safety Management System as a means of ensuring safe operations and eliminating or reducing the likelihood of low frequency/high consequence incidents. Research into how complex organisations achieve consistently safe outcomes (Reason, 1997) has shown that one factor which influences safe operations is the attitude of employees toward unsafe acts. These attitudes have been found to influence the behaviour of employees and hence the likelihood of unsafe acts. However, what is not clear is the extent to which Safety Management Systems per se influence the safety attitudes of employees.
This thesis sought to determine the extent to which the implementation of a Safety Management System (SMS) influenced the attitudes of airport employees toward unsafe acts. The hypothesis tested was that the implementation of an SMS into an airport would result in an improvement in attitudes toward safety. A Safety Culture survey was utilised to measure these attitudes. Two International Airports were chosen to measure the extent to which the introduction of an SMS at one Airport would influence the safety attitude and culture of those employees. A Safety Culture Survey was used as the pre-test and post-test measure over a 12-month period to determine the extent of influence of the introduction of the SMS at Sharjah Airport. The average score reported by participants at Sharjah Airport increased significantly from pre-test measure to post-test measure in relation to communication, safety rules, supportive environment, personal risk appreciation, work environment, and involvement. At the same time, the average score for personal priorities decreased significantly from Phase 1 to 2. Results indicate that participants at Sharjah Airport recorded a significant positive shift in attitude to the safety factors covered in the safety culture survey, whilst at the same time responses from the second Airport showed no such shift in attitude.