Safety Management System
Aviation safety has traditionally focused on compliance with regulatory requirements and corrective actions to prevent recurrence of incidents. As the industry continues to expand and develop, a different approach has become necessary to keep safety risks at an acceptable level. Safety management systems (SMS) are designed to complement regulatory compliance by the proactive use of good practices.
What is a Safety Management System in Aviation?
Sometimes situations arise where a hazard warrants controls that are beyond those provided through traditional regulation. SMS provides a set of processes to control hazards detected by the organisation through identification, assessment, analysis, prioritisation and safety improvement actions. Service providers and all their staff members are responsible for the safe provision of their aviation services, therefore they must assess and, where appropriate, remove or mitigate any identified hazards. SMS aims to allocate sufficient resources to manage hazards – not only within a service provider’s organisation, but throughout the whole aviation sector.
Using SMS is simply adopting a business-like approach to safety, similar to the way that finances are managed. Unless a company experiences a loss, or critically assesses both the direct and indirect costs of an occurrence, the full implications are unlikely to be appreciated.
The direct costs are usually easy to quantify. They include damage to the aircraft, compensation for injuries, disruption of services/activities and damage to property. These are usually settled through an insurance claim.
Indirect costs may include legal action, loss of business due to damaged reputation, increased insurance premiums, loss of staff productivity, and equipment recovery and clean-up.
Aviation Safety Management System Guidance
The BCAA has developed an SMS Assessment Tool document to assist with assessing an organization’s SMS. It can be used for both initial assessment and ongoing oversight. The guidance is based on a series of indicators to enable BCAA staff to assess the effectiveness of an organisation’s SMS. It has been designed to indicate the expected standard of an organisation’s SMS in terms of compliance with the SMS regulation and its success in effectively managing safety risk.