The universally accepted framework for SMS includes four main components and twelve elements, representing the minimum requirements for an SMS. Some SMS include an additional three elements: the SMS implementation plan, third party interface (contractors and service providers) and internal safety investigation.

They are:

  • Safety policy and objectives
  • Management commitment and responsibility
  • Safety accountabilities
  • Appointment of key safety personnel
  • SMS implementation
  • Contractors/third party interfaces
  • Coordination of emergency response planning
  • SMS documentation
  • Safety risk management
  • Hazard identification
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Safety assurance
  • Safety performance monitoring and measurement
  • Internal safety investigation
  • The management of change
  • Continuous improvement of the SMS
  • Safety promotion
  • Training and education
  • Safety communication

Business and safety management both involve goal setting, establishment of policies, measurement of performance and continuous improvement. However, an SMS goes beyond a business/quality management system (QMS) because it focuses on how people contribute to the safety outcomes of a business. In other words, it focuses on protection; while a QMS focuses on the products and services of an organisation – on production. This people focus underlines the importance of integrating human factors in all parts of an SMS.

Safety culture – where does your organisation sit? A safety culture within an organisation is generally thought to be a set of beliefs, norms, attitudes or practices which reduce the exposure of all people in and around the organisation to conditions considered dangerous or hazardous. Safe organisations generally: » Pursue safety as an organisational objective and regard it as a major contributor to achieving production goals » Have appropriate risk management structures, which allow for an appropriate balance between production and risk management » Enjoy an open and healthy corporate safety culture » Possess a structure which has been designed with a suitable degree of complexity » Have standardised procedures and centralised decision-making consistent with organisational objectives and the surrounding environment » Rely on internal responsibility, rather than regulatory compliance, to achieve safety objectives » Put long-term measures in place to mitigate latent safety risks, as well as acting short term to mitigate active failures.

The five key ingredients of an effective safety culture (James Reason’s model):

  • FLEXIBLE CULTURE – An organisation can adapt in the face of high tempo operations or certain kinds of danger – often shifting from the conventional hierarchical mode to a flatter mode.
  • INFORMED CULTURE – Those who manage and operate the system have current knowledge about the human, technical, organisational and environmental factors that determine the safety of the system as a whole.
  • JUST CULTURE – There is an atmosphere of trust. People are encouraged (even rewarded) for providing essential safety-related information, but they are also clear about where the line must be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
  • LEARNING CULTURE – An organisation must possess the willingness and the competence to draw the right conclusions from its safety information system and be willing to implement major reforms.
  • REPORTING CULTURE – An organisational climate in which people are prepared to report their errors and near-misses.

Benefits of an effective safety culture

An effective safety culture not only helps to meet your moral and legal obligations (such as providing a safe work environment for employees), but also has other benefits, including:

Return on investment:
A positive safety culture provides a much greater control over losses. In turn, this allows your organisation to operate in inherently risky environments where the return on investment is the greatest.

A positive safety culture will generate trust on the part of other customers and other aviation organisations, potentially generating more business through alliances.

Improved audits:
A positive safety culture will welcome audits as an important source of external information and/or confirmation about how well your organisation is performing.

There is a strong relationship between safety culture and a safety management system. A safety management system consists of a number of defined minimum standards. However, standards are just words on paper. While safety culture can be considered to be the oil that lubricates the engine parts (elements of the SMS), ultimately, safety culture is the link between behavior (errors and violations) and the effectiveness of the SMS. An SMS will not be effective unless there is a positive safety culture, which in turn determines how your people will contribute to the SMS and what they think about it.

When should your business stop to be safe?
How can you prevent and predict safety?
How can your business be a just culture when things go wrong or people make mistakes?

At WP Management System Solutions, we feel that our new system has addressed most of the on-going questions and issues for Safety Management. Our new application not only provides a greater number of methods and tools in comparison to traditional methods but can also save your valuable time that would otherwise be wasted in registering, linking and mapping your safety management related data. What we have determined from our own experience is that there is a real problem at the moment that is not going to disappear, the existing risk management systems are way too complicated. We are confident that our tools will address this issue and be a long term solution for your immediate safety management problem.

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