Safety Management Systems (SMS) are gaining popularity in the aviation industry.
Take this short quiz to see just how SMS savvy you are.
1. Define a Safety Management System:
- A system to instill a safety culture
- A systematic way to gather data
- A structured, formal process to manage safety and risk
A Safety Management System (SMS) is a structured process to manage safety and risks. Operators can use an SMS to submit, review, and assess issues in a systematic manner. The ultimate goal is being predictive about risks. This in turn can allow you to implement controls to reduce risks and negative trends that can lead to incidents or accidents.
Implementing an SMS will allow you to benefit from more methodical policies and best practices. When you formalize safety, you acquire more data, which can be used to make informed decisions about setting the right safety goals. Flight departments with documented processes and policies are able to help reduce human error, as well as enable a smooth handover when onboarding new employees for instance.
2. Select the four main components of an SMS:
- Safety risk management
- Assessing safety risk
- Safety policy and objectives
- Data analysis
- Safety promotion
- Hazard identification
- Safety training and education
- Safety assurance
The four main SMS components are:
- Safety policy and objectives: This determines your safety policies and procedures, defines structure, and provides a go to reference.
- Safety risk management: This is all about reporting, managing, mitigating, and analyzing risks.
- Safety assurance: Monitoring safety performance and managing change in order to continually improve the flight department and verify that safety risk controls are working.
- Safety promotion: Raising awareness about safety throughout the organization, from training to instilling a safety culture.
Want to know more? Read our SMS components blog post for more details.
3. What attitudes are associated with an SMS?
- All of the above
An SMS is all about being reactive (reporting observed hazards), proactive (identifying potential risks), and predictive (making decisions based on previously collected data) at the same time.
At the start of the aviation era, planes still needed a lot of tweaking. Once the major technical problems were solved, focus shifted to human error. The industry started creating safety resource programs and bulletin boards, and discussed issues with regional committees. Then people started reporting where things went wrong. When SMS came into play, data enabled us to spot and track trends and habits more effectively.
4. How complex should your SMS be?
- An SMS is fairly simple and doesn’t require a lot of work
- It should reflect the complexity of your organization
- SMS must be complex in order to be effective
A Safety Management System should be tailored to your organization. It can be customized to your operation, large or small, and shouldn’t add unnecessarily to your workload. In an ideal safety culture, safety is part of your everyday activities.
The design and flow of safety reporting forms will be very different from operator to operator, but the goal remains the same. An SMS should add structure and support – and ultimately help you become more efficient.
Break your SMS into manageable parts. If necessary, outsource part of it to a third-party vendor. A little help can go a long way.
5. The Safety Risk Profile is used to report a one-time incident. True or False?
To report a one-time incident, use an Incident / Hazard Report form. The Safety Risk Profile is used to provide a broad look at your flight department by giving an overview of all potential risks you may encounter. Questions you may want to ask while preparing your Safety Risk Profile are: Where do our risks lie? What kind of airports are we flying into? Are we extending duty days or flying late at night? Does our maintenance staff have the appropriate resources to do their work safely??
Your Safety Risk Profile will be unique to your department. It’s important to keep your Safety Risk Profile updated, at the very least on a yearly basis, or when there’s been a significant organizational change.
6. Safety Performance Indicators are used to monitor and assess safety performance. True or False?
Safety Performance Indicators (SPIs) are quantitative measures a Safety Manager can use to interpret levels of safety and trends in their organization. SPIs need to be evaluated over a specific time period. The two types of SPIs are:
– Leading indicators: for proactive analysis.
– Lagging indicators: for reactive analysis.
Discover more about Safety Performance Indicators.
7. When an employee approaches you about an incident they were part of, how should you react?
- The severity of the consequences should reflect the severity of the incident
- Reprimand them verbally without further consequences
- Acknowledge the fact that they came forward and encourage further sharing
The key to a successful SMS is maintaining an open and candid safety culture. Employees should feel safe to report issues and receive positive feedback to encourage future reporting. In general, this should be done in a non-punitive environment, provided there was no gross or wilful negligence. This can only happen with management buy-in.
8. What are some ways you can increase communication in your SMS?
- Holding regular safety meetings, provide training on SMS responsibilities, and explaining policy changes based on SMS data.
- Requiring a minimum number of forms be submitted each month and ensuring each person submits at least one form
- Ensuring a Risk Assessment is performed before all flights
Open communication is key to supporting a strong safety culture. Holding regular safety meetings, training everyone on how to use the SMS (as appropriate to their job), and explaining changes made as a result of SMS data will give employees visibility in how the SMS works and encourage participation.
9. Which of the following methods can be used to verify your SMS processes are effective?
- Review safety mitigations against safety data and conduct periodic internal and external audits
- Review the number of forms submitted to ensure the rate of submission is decreasing
- Conduct a Safety Culture Survey to ensure your team’s view of safety is improving
While collecting and acting upon SMS data is key, it is critical to make sure actions taken as a result of the data are appropriate and effective. You can do this by reviewing risk mitigations you put in place to see if they have improved safety.
You should also conduct periodic internal checks by having your personnel check that your actual operations match the policies and procedures in your documentation. These internal audits don’t have to be large but instead can be small (“bite-sized”) checks conducted throughout the year to assess safety performance in an easy, manageable way.
You can also have a third-party SMS auditor take a look at your organization. This second set of eyes can help catch safety issues that may have gone unnoticed. An auditor can also help with suggestions.
10. Once a safety goal is set, there’s no longer any need to adjust it. True or False?
Safety goals should be reviewed periodically, and adjusted as often as necessary. Review them at least once a year, and set them to be achievable within your overarching safety strategy.
How did you do? We bet you passed with flying colors – and if you didn’t, give us a call and we can help you extend your SMS knowledge. In fact, with ARC, you can have your own quiz tailored to your operation.