Sunday, May 20, 2018

What To Report In SMS

What To Report In SMS

Post by CatalinaNJB

The Safety Management System (SMS) is a safety tool for an imperfect organization, being an airline or airport, to discover hazards and maintain an acceptable level of safety. Airlines and airports in North America are mostly implementing their SMS for regulatory compliance and not for safety improvements. SMS is simply implemented as a requirement to maintain the operations certificate. As a regulatory demand SMS might be viewed as another bureaucratic burden to satisfy paperwork trails. However, after working with SMS and comprehend the systems, operators may experience changes of opinion and discovered the benefits, including a higher return on investment, by the implementation of SMS.  Any operator, who does not require an SMS for regulatory compliance, would benefit strongly by implementing an SMS program voluntarily and be ready when SMS eventually becomes a regulatory requirement. This timeframe period would build SMS comprehension and readiness for SMS compliance. SMS is a safety tool, and a speciality tool required, to coordinate both complex and simple systems and as a tool for cooperation with continuous safety improvements. 

The Safety Bunny is attentive, listens and looks out for hazards.
SMS is a tool in the beginning stage of supporting safety in aviation. Safety does not happen overnight but is a change in operational culture. SMS is a tool to be accepted on an equal platform as an accounting department, human resource department and sales and marketing department in a successful business. In addition, there are several other organizational functions that are required to support the business success. However, SMS is not just another tool, but the single most important tool in promoting business activities. Aviation cannot be promoted without SMS as the core purpose in bringing passengers and freight safely home. 

Hazard reporting in SMS has everything to do with an effective SMS and continuous safety improvements. When SMS is first implemented there is no prior data collected to establish the organizational confidence level of safety. An enterprise without an SMS may believe that they are 100 % safe, while in fact they operate with a zero percent confidence level of safety. Without documented safety processes there is no safety. It’s only the random probability of hitting the jackpot. A common trend when rolling out the SMS is to promote everything to be reported. Everything includes hazard reports and any incident or accident observed or being involved in. Hazards are subjective and individually assessed as a risk based on opinion and experience. Exposure intervals to specific hazard often changes the opinion of the safety risk involved. When rolling out a brand-new SMS all hazards should be reported. It should not be expected that untrained personnel make risk assessment of a hazard and decide if it is reportable or not. There is a reason why a hazard was observed, and it is that a condition caught someone’s attention. It is simply a hazard because it was discovered. There is no magic to discover and report hazards. When assessing the risk factor of a specific hazard it could well be that it is irrelevant to aviation safety, but it doesn’t take away the fact that in the moment someone determined that it was. 

What's important is how changes are managed when the line is washed out.
The first purpose of SMS is to establish a baseline of current operational processes. This baseline is not a safety level baseline, but strictly a baseline of current processes. The next step is to assess current processes to regulatory requirements. If current processes are equal to or exceed an outcome for regulatory compliance, then this baseline is acceptable to proceed to the next step. An enterprise must have processes in place where the outcome of these processes conforms to regulatory compliance before continuing to the next step, which is continuous safety improvements.  The continuous safety improvement step is to draw the line in the sand or establish an objective of where to set the safety bar. When the safety bar is accepted and set by an enterprise the opportunities for improvements are infinite. This bar may vary from one operator to another operator. It is vital for success in safety not to compare safety bar levels between operators, but to compare current result to established goals. When an operator restricts hazard reports, they are restricting the evolution of SMS and safety will maintain status quo. This might be acceptable for an operator who is safety-superior, but not for operators with a goal for continuous safety improvements.     


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