Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Concept Of SMS

The Concept Of SMS

Post by CatalinaNJB

The first thing when giving Safety Management System (SMS) taring to personnel, is to provide training in the concept of SMS. It is crucial to success of a newly implemented SMS that the concept of SMS is introduced at all levels in the organization prior to any other SMS training takes place. This includes management and the CEO in addition to all other personnel. The CEO, President or Accountable Executives are just as new to SMS as the airport manager, pilots, mechanics and other personnel in the organization. That a person ranks higher in an organizational hierarchy does not imply that there is a greater knowledge of SMS, or that this person has a comprehension of the SMS.  It could be an intimidating task for a brand-new SMS Manager approach the CEO and suggest SMS training. It could also be an assumption that since the AE has final authority over SMS financial and human resources they are already SMS experts. However, when the AE accepted the AE position and appointed an SMS Manager, the SMS Manager became the only SMS expert within that organization with accountability to the SMS program itself to train the AE from the ground up. 

Compliance with regulations, standards and policies is not a safety guarantee    
There are two primary concepts to the SMS. The first concept of an SMS is for an abstract idea to produce an abstract result. This is applied when developing SMS manuals and processes for regulatory compliance. Regulatory compliance is a static-state of the operations and therefore abstract in nature.

The second concept of SMS is for an abstract idea to produce a tangible result. This combination in itself is a direct conflict with normal operations, where an abstract input, or existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence, is expected to only produce an abstract output. [E.g. Brainstorming sessions are not expected to produce real results but are expected to produce safety plans for implementation.] An Enterprise could easily fall into a trap where the only purpose of their SMS becomes to produce a paper-trail, or the collection of data, as evidence of safe operations. It becomes evident in the Regulator’s validation of an SMS that there are distinct differences between abstract compliance and tangible compliance, by their design and demonstration validation.

Since hazards are opinion based, hazards become the abstract concept of SMS, while the task of initiating hazard reporting becomes the tangible output. Incidents and accidents cannot be reported until after the fact and are not staged for the purpose of reporting. On the other hand, real hazards may be staged for the purpose of reporting within a supervised environment. During a training session multiple hazards could be introduced to the group for hazard reporting. Each person may place different weight on the same hazard based on learning, expectation, experience and opinions and therefore abstract conditions. One person may report all conditions as hazards, while others may report none or just a few. Within an effective SMS, opinions of hazards are transformed into an output of hazard reports. Continuous safety improvements and proactive safety measures are dependant on data received by hazard reporting. When the concept of SMS is defined beyond the hazard reporting, SMS becomes reactive in concept.

In the eye of the beholder a sunset is a hazard.
Incidents and accidents cannot be predicted, but the intent of hazard reporting is to prevent accidents. Some years ago, the root cause of a 747-airliner accident was an event that had occurred twenty-two years earlier. During these years the airplane had been in and out of the shop many times, but nobody reported what they had observed. Hazard reporting was not an acceptable approach and by reporting a hazard caused by a faulty repair and questioning workmanship could be disrespectful to the mechanics. Over several years a discoloring on the airframe was observed, but there was no toolbox for personnel available to report this concern. A hazard report of these observations would have required at least one person to review the hazard and sign off on a safety risk analysis. Investigation of a hazard report may have guided personnel to inspect a damaged bulkhead.

The old saying is that “selling is not telling” also goes for the concept of SMS that “teaching is not telling”. Training in the concept is to introduce SMS as a toolbox full of tools to use for continuous safety improvements. Tools available to all personnel are sorted by their roles, responsibilities and accountability. The role, responsibility and accountability of the AE is to ensure that each person feels included in the SMS processes, that they take ownership of their hazard report and that they are following their own report from beginning to end. The end result of a hazard report may discover options that could never be imagined.


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