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Safety Management Systems (SMS): Explained

A safety management system (SMS) refers to formal strategies that allow your organization to manage safety risks. An SMS is ideal for helping you measure risks effectively. It also helps you incorporate systematic processes that allow you to improve your standard practices. An SMS is highly revered because it helps you structure procedures that allow your airport to manage safety with greater care. Without an SMS, you may not be managing safety as well as you handle other vital business processes. With the technological evolution of an SMS, these safety management practices become streamlined, allowing you to assess risk and other potential hazards with greater precision.

What Is a Safety Management System (SMS)?

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an SMS has become a standard throughout the aviation industry globally. These systems are recognized not just by the Joints Planning and Development Office (JPDO) but also by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Safety management in the aviation industry continues to evolve, and an SMS is just another aspect of that continued innovation. Not only does an SMS assist with improving overall safety in aviation, but it also helps you better manage the processes related to safety.

You likely use other management systems for specific aspects of your organization, such as security and quality. SMS revolves around safety and integrating safety risk management and safety assurance into systems that can be easily replicated. These systems permit you to keep your organization proactive in addressing safety concerns. An SMS highlights safety management as a core aspect of business, bringing it into a high-priority position. While your organization has several areas that make up the whole, a safety management system focuses primarily on safety decision-making. Safety is unique in that it involves every member of your organization, from the ramp worker up to managers and even the FAA inspector.

The Role of SMS in Accident Prevention

A well-informed decision is the best you can take. With an SMS, you can rely on a highly structured process for determining safety risk management. You are privy to system failures before they occur, which puts you in a better position to demonstrate the capability of safety management within your organization. Additionally, your organization operates with more confidence, knowing that risk controls are in place with well-defined safety assurance processes. The regulator and certificate holders operate within one effective interface, which allows for open information sharing, empowering all users. Safety also involves culture. With an SMS, you’re provided with a safety promotion framework that benefits all members of your organization.

SMS brings a new level of accountability into your organization’s operations. With so many working parts in an airport, causal factors for accidents can be highly related to individual decision-making and failure to perform adequate inspections. With an SMS, you have a central location for employee reports and data collection, which allows the system to improve safety by predicting hazards. This data can be used to perform a thorough analysis, assess risks, and control them. An SMS positions you to better comply with existing regulations. Plus, you can prepare for future action through knowledge sharing. An SMS is designed to enhance the safety culture of your organization by altering the way employees view safety and accident prevention.

SMS Solutions for Airports

It’s no secret that accidents can cost your organization exorbitant amounts of money. A simple oversight during a preflight inspection can have disastrous results. However, with an SMS, organizational thinking is redefined to incorporate a more proactive and predictive set of processes, instead of relying solely on a reactive approach. The aviation industry fully backs the use of SMS because it delivers true safety processes and, consequently, financial benefits. An SMS allows you to use a single system to prioritize safety management and change the culture surrounding safety throughout your organization.

With continued use, your data stores become invaluable aspects of your proactive and predictive processes, allowing teams on different levels to communicate effectively. The way an SMS is structured allows you to gain greater insight into how your organization operates. This bird’s eye view empowers you to implement more efficient processes and generate cost avoidance. Even during the beginning phases, an SMS immediately gets to work to highlight areas for improvement and help you move through each phase with ease: 1) reactive, 2) proactive, and 3) predictive.

The Four SMS Components You Should Know

Every SMS has four foundational components. With these four components, an SMS can deliver the data you need to implement a systematic approach to safety management. The components include:

Safety Policy

The first component is safety policy and refers to the methods, processes, and organizational structure required specifically for your organization. This first component sets the foundation for senior management and cements their commitment to prioritizing safety.

Safety Risk Management

The second component is safety risk management. This component refers to new or modified risk controls—only after a thorough assessment of acceptable risks.

Safety Assurance

The third component is safety assurance. This component is all about evaluating how effective your implemented risk control strategies are. During this phase, you’re also supporting the identification of any new potential hazards.

Safety Promotion

The fourth and final functional component of an SMS is safety promotion. This component refers to the creation of a safety culture. This includes training, communication, and any other actions you designate to ensure every level of your workforce is on board with promoting a productive safety culture.

Aerosimple has developed innovative software that helps you move to proactive and predictive approaches and relies on the four SMS components outlined above. It offers a user-friendly interface with a streamlined set of processes that help you prioritize safety management throughout your organization. Try it without risk for 60 days by signing up for a free trial.

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