1. What is Safety Management System?
Safety Management System (SMS) is the formal, top-down business approach to managing safety risk, which includes a systemic approach to handling safety, including the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures.
Safety Management Systems (SMSs) for product/service providers (certificate holders) and regulators will integrate modern safety risk management and safety assurance concepts into repeatable, proactive systems. SMSs emphasize safety management as a fundamental business process to be considered in the same manner as other aspects of business management.
Example of SMS
SMS in Aviation
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) found in Annex 6, Part 2 specify that a SMS requirement be incorporated into national safety regulations for operators of non-commercial aircraft over 12,500 pounds maximum takeoff weight or turbojet powered aircraft. The compliance date for ICAO Member states to begin implementation of these standards is November 2010. Annex 6 Part 1 of the ICAO Standards, applicable to commercial operators, required Member states to indicate their plans for compliance beginning on January 1, 2009.
By recognizing the organization's role in accident prevention, SMSs provide to both certificate holders and the national aviation authority e.g. (CAAS):
A structured means of safety risk management decision making A means of demonstrating safety management capability before system failures occur Increased confidence in risk controls though structured safety assurance processes An effective interface for knowledge sharing between regulator and certificate holder A safety promotion framework to support a sound safety culture Safety begins from both the top down and the bottom up. Everyone from the receptionist, ramp worker, pilot, manager, and CAAS Inspector has a role to perform.
SMS is all about decision-making. Thus it has to be a decision-maker's tool, not a traditional safety program separate and distinct from business and operational decision making.
Why do we need SMS?
We are now in a position where the "common cause" accidents are diminishing in number. While it's a major success story, it's not a place to rest. When we find a cause that affects all or part of a large population of operators or other aviation participants, we can address risk through rulemaking – a risk control that applies to everyone to address risks to which everyone is exposed. There will always be some of these risks and work will continue to find them and address them. Many accidents that occur, however, are due to the unique aspects of the operating environments of individual operators of narrow segments of the aviation community. The causal factors of these accidents aren't common to everyone; they must be found and addressed with methods that are sensitive to the nuances of the individual operator's situation. One of the defining characteristics of an SMS is its emphasis on risk management [within the individual operators’ environment and situation] – it's a gap filler between the common cause risk factors that are addressed by traditional regulations and those that are more elusive.
Hypothetical Scenario Demonstrating the Need for SMS
A well-designed aircraft with a history of reliable service is being prepared for a charter flight. Employees tow the aircraft from the hangar to the terminal. One employee sees wetness on the right tire as he unhooks the tow bar. However, he does not give it attention, as he is very busy and has three other aircraft to move in the next 15 minutes.
At the same time, a safety inspector is walking through the hangar when she encounters a hydraulic oil spill on the hangar floor. She notifies a janitor to clean up the slip hazard as she leaves. While cleaning the spill, the janitor wonders aloud where the spill came from. Afterwards, both...
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