Have you been SMS’d?
Simplified, there are three questions to ask when an SMS hazard report is received to validate the report.
1. Does the hazard report include the description of a latent condition which if left unattended could develop into an incident? If the answer is “yes”, it’s a hazard.
2. Does the hazard report include that the hazard has caused an unexpected event or interruption of a process? If the answer is “yes”, it is not a hazard, but an incident and to be actioned accordingly.
3. Does the hazard report direct attention to an individual having lack of sound judgment or technical skills? If the answer is “yes”, it is not a hazard, but an organizational issue and to be actioned accordingly.
Hazard reports may be submitted anonymous since it is a condition which has not interrupted a process. A hazard is to be analyzed, categorized and placed in a hazard register for follow-up action.
When a hazard report is pointing out an individual, that person becomes the sole responsibly of the outcome. When reviewing a hazard report pointing blame on an individual, it’s time for the SMS manager to move back to the fork in the road and read the signs. One of the signs should show the road to analyze hazard reports.
If one continues down the wrong path in analyzing reports, it could be a long walk back to find the sings
When a person be SMS’d, or being named in a hazard report, it could be that hazard identification has not been addressed on the management level and communicated throughout the organization. Hazard reports are not intended to replace, or be used a tool in an assessment of individual competency. However, it may indicate shortcomings in organizational training or evaluation of training.
When using a hazard report to get someone SMS’d, it becomes just as ineffective as attempting to use a tractor as an airplane. It’s not the correct tool, it does not improve aviation safety and the desired result is not reached. Even if one puts a competent person into this equation, the outcome does not improve safety since the design of a tractor is not to become airborne. A process may work great and all the pieces in the puzzle fits, but the design inputs are incorrect when placing blame on a person and they are SMS’d.