Saturday, May 28, 2022

A Successful SMS Policy

A Successful SMS Policy 

 By OffRoadPilots

There are seven traits to a successful safety management system (SMS) policy. 

1)    The SMS policy is written on behalf of the customers;

2)    The policy is written in plain language;

3)    The policy express accountability;

4)    An SMS policy conveys an attainable vision;

5)    The policy details task performance expectations;

6)    The policy is unambiguous; and

7)    A successful SMS policy is short.


Every successful SMS policy begins with a blank page


When writing an SMS policy, it is critical to know that an SMS policy is not about safety. Safety is a buzzword, and a safety-card, used when there are no justifications for applied actions. It is important to understand that the safety-card is applied to emotions and opinions rather than data and facts. When the safety-card is played all oppositions are silenced, since nobody wants to argue against safety. The safety-card is a manipulative statement often used in aviation. When someone wants a specific result, they use the safety-card to get what they want, and they draw root-cause solutions from an emotional data base rather than an analytic data base. Definition of safety is the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury, or loss. When applying safety to aviation, being airlines or airports, all operations and movements must cease to ensure safety by this definition. There will always be an inherited risk in aviation. In a healthy SMS environment, there is no censorship to opposition or concerns.  

 

A successful SMS policy protects high value assets.


The first criteria of a successful SMS policy are that the policy is written on behalf of customers, clients, users, vendors, and workers. SMS is a businesslike approach to airport and airline operations, where your customers pay your bills, and your competitors set your sales price. SMS is a systematic and proactive process for operational management. As with any management systems, it provides goal setting, planning, and performance monitoring. A safety management system is woven into the fabric of an organization. An SMS policy must make commitments for customers to be assured of a successful flight and reliability in airport operations. A successful flight is heavily dependent on airport operations since any flight originates and terminates at an aerodrome. A customer may be an airline, an air carrier, an airport, a freight carrier, a flight crew, an aircraft owner, an aircraft manufacturer, or a travel agent. A client is a customer who purchases professional on-demand services from an airline or airport, such as an aerial fire-fighting operator or alternate airport user. A client establishes a direct business relationship, while a customer is relying on the business relationship between airports and airlines. A travelling customer may choose to travel an additional 2-3 hours by ground to depart out of a preferred airport or with a preferred airline. Users are both air operator and ground operators with a role in servicing airport or airline operations. A vendor is a person or organization servicing airline or airport customers. The workers are airline or airport workers and include all personnel who are involved in airport reliability and aircraft operations. An SMS policy that is written on behalf of workers, include workers as a foundation for a successful SMS policy with a commitment to support workers in their daily tasks.    

 

The second part of a successful SMS policy is that it is written in plain language. A plain language is written to an elementary grade level. The purpose of an SMS policy is not to tell the world that you are a subject matter erudite by your enthusiastic and complex language, but it is to tell the world what your SMS policy is all about. 

 

The third element of a successful SMS policy is to express accountability. This is forward-looking accountability and is not the backwards-looking accountability to be “held accountable”. A forward-looking accountability environment is a just-culture, where there is trust, learning, accountability, and information sharing. Accountability is about job-performance and to complete job-tasks to the level of conforming to regulatory requirements, job-description, expertise, and training, to an acceptable standard, or to an expected outcome. Accountability is also a commitment to excellence and to do the right thing when nobody is watching. 

 

A successful SMS policy is simple and accessible.


Number four of a successful SMS policy is to convey a vision. It is not enough to state a vision in the SMS policy, but the vision must carry an emotion to reach an outcome. A vision to be safe, or to be the safest airline or airport, does not mean anything to anybody, except for the writer of the policy. Feel-good words were often used in pre-SMS policies to make feel-good statements. Many of these policy manuals were literarily collecting dust on the shelf and never applied to operations. People do not remember what you said, but they will remember how they felt when the words were spoken or read. The emotions in the SMS policy is what convey your message of a vision.

 

The fifth part of an SMS policy is to detail task performance expectations. This does not imply to spell out in details what the performance expectations are, but to highlight the roles of positions in the organizational chart. Within an SMS enterprise there are generally speaking five positions with roles under the SMS. The role of the Accountable Executive is to be responsible for operations authorized under the certificate and accountable on their behalf of the certificate holder for meeting the requirements of the regulations and the role of an SMS manger is operational management of the SMS. The roles of a Quality Assurance Program manager is to review and audits all areas of operations for compliance with regulations, standards, and policies, and audits of processes conformity level to regulatory compliance, expectations, and risk level in operations. The role of all other personnel in the org-chart is to submit hazard, incident and accident reports and provide suggestions for incremental process improvements. The fifth position within an SMS Enterprise is a voluntary position as a confidential adviser to the accountable executive. Normally, an AE has other job functions, such as being the CEO or President of an organization, in addition the task to “be responsible for operations authorized under the certificate”. The certificate responsibility includes the daily quality control task, which is a prerequisite for a quality assurance program. The role of an AE includes daily oversight of all activates of the SMS Manager, QAP Manager and all personnel, in addition to ensuring regulatory compliance for oversight inspections. The AE task is a full-time job in itself, and when an AE has other than AE responsibilities to the organization, it becomes impossible to maintain ongoing regulatory compliance. Just as an AE, or CEO, is supported by accountants, attorneys or subject matter experts, they also need the support of a confidential adviser to maintain operational regulatory compliance as an airport or airline.  

 

Number six of an SMS policy is to write a policy that is unambiguous. The policy is not open to more than one interpretation of each statement in the policy. 

 

The seventh element of a successful SMS policy is that the policy is short. That an SMS policy is short does not imply that the policy contains incomplete statements or justifications, but that items addressed in the policy are in paragraphs with individual sub-headings of the policy. 

 

Objectives and goals are addressed separately from an SMS policy, but a successful policy includes a statement that there is a goal-setting process established to comply with the seven elements of this policy, and for measuring the attainment of these goals.

 

 

OffRoadPilots








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