SMS (Safety Management Systems Explained)By Bryan P BowieSMS seems to be the aviation buzz word right now. ICAO is requiring that all member nationsrequire Safety Management (SMS) systems for certain operators. Many countries, like Canada,already require safety management systems (SMS) for large aircraft. The US is currentlyworking on implementing a SMS requirement for Part 121, Part 135 and also Part 91 largeaircraft operators. Also if you go to Bermuda, you will be required to have an SafetyManagement System (SMS) system in place or at least be working on one.So what exactly is a Safety Management System (SMS) and is it complicated to start one? Wellfirst SMS is considered to be the next step in the evolution of aviation safety. These types ofsystems are not just for aviation. Actually any business or organization could benefit from aSafety Management System (SMS). You will find that Safety Management Systems (SMS) arebeing used or developed for the management of other critical areas such as quality, occupationalsafety and health, security, or the environment to name just a few.Safety Management Systems (SMSs) do not have to be complex or overwhelming. SafetyManagement Systems (SMS) are really just a change in the attitudes of safety in an organizationas a whole. With a safety management system, the whole company embraces the importance ofsafety and then manages the company’s safety and risk to help to avoid accidents and incidents.SMS is a proactive system to will integrate modern safety risk management and safety assuranceconcepts into repeatable steps. Safety management systems emphasize safety management as afundamental business process to be considered in the same manner as other aspects of businessmanagement.Safety Management Systems (SMS) do not need to be difficult to develop, implement or tomanage. Safety Management Systems may seem complex at first glance but they are really quitesimple. The organization just needs to make safety its number one priority. The company wouldthen set up some simple procedures for promoting safety, reporting and tracking hazards andmaking good decisions based on safety related issues. SMS may seem overwhelming at first butit is not. You just need to promote safety reporting, track the reports and incidents and developprocedures to reduce the risks based on these report and then follow up on your new procedures.SMS is just a process of simple decision making skills that will be written down to mitigateunsafe procedures, policies actions.So what does a Safety Management System provide to a company or organization? It willprovide the following five items: A structured way to make safety related decisions A way to find and react to safety issues before an accident or incident Do a better job of controlling risk though structured safety assurance processes A way to share safety knowledge within the organization, between other organizations including regulatory ones. Procedures to promote safety so that the company has a sound safety culture
Remember Safety Management Systems do not need to be complex. A company just has todecide to embrace the concept of safety and safety reporting. Once the Safety ManagementSystem has been embraced by the organization, the company needs develop a safety reportingsystem including tracking, analysis and follow up that will not result in punitive actions againstthe reporter. Once this SMS reporting system is in place, the company will need to promote theuse of safety reports so that safety related issues can be located and corrected in a timely mannerbefore an incident or accident occurs. SMS is really that simple. So what is holding you backfrom implementing your Safety Management Systems today? Do not wait; you should get starteddeveloping your Safety Management System (SMS) today. It could save you from a catastrophelooming right around the corner for your organization.