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Safety Management Systems

Providing direction for your safety program

Your organization might not be operating any aircraft, but that doesn’t mean that your organization can’t learn from proven industry processes in other industries. While Safety Management Systems (SMS) isn’t limited to aviation, given the origin of Anymouse™ a closer inspection of this powerful process can be useful to any safety manager no matter the industry.

SMS places heavy responsibility on senior leadership, without the cooperation of senior management no safety program will be successful.

In considering safety management systems, it should be noted that it is not a stand-alone system, but something that integrated in a number of ways to your organization’s operations. In many ways this builds on existing processes in your company and is not ignorant of your company’s business needs.

What is a Safety Management System (SMS)?

A safety management system helps your business develop an effective risk-based decision-making process across your entire organization. In an aviation context, this provides an ongoing process to improve flight safety. What does this mean for your business? Every business encounters risk of some kind, establishing a system to assess the effectiveness of your risk assessment and mitigation plans.

Safety management systems are meant to be a proactive tool, one that can be used by management to predict future risks and develop mitigations. Many regulatory compliance requirements that an organization or company is required to do are reactive in nature, merely documenting events that have already taken place. This is important, but it doesn’t provide the data needed to management to allocate resources for risk mitigation.

Safety Management Systems is dependent on key processes, which provide a defined structure to organize safety data in your organization. These key processes include:

  1. Hazard Identification
  2. Incident Reporting
  3. Risk Management
  4. Performance Measurement
  5. Quality Assurance

An effective SMS identifies and reports hazard and incidents. It provides a clearly documented process to assess risks and apply controls. In addition, a SMS provides a means to measure performance in achieving safety goals and a process for continuous improvement as it relates to safety. This requires effective communication within your organization and strong leadership to allocate the time and resources needed by this safety program.

Understanding Roles and Responsibilities

SMS places heavy responsibility on senior leadership, without the cooperation of senior management no safety program will be successful. Not only must resources be allocated to a safety program, but clear responsibilities need to be established to establish effective policies that guide implementation.

Employees in a company with a functioning SMS are vital for identifying and reporting hazards and incidents. A system like Anymouse™ can certainly provide the means of gathering this information and keeping on top of risk assessments and controls. If you don’t have the means to gather information from employees when you’re not observing, there is a wealth of information that is not making its way into your program.

While this can reduce your workload, the principles discussed can be applied without any technological aids. In fact, one shouldn’t be too reliant on technology as a solution. Even with an excellent reporting tool, your organization’s people will make the difference in regard to the success of a program.

While your organization may not wish to adopt this type of system, there are many lessons that can be learned and applied to your organization. Besides demonstrating due diligence and complying with regulatory requirements, a properly functioning safety management system helps develop a strong culture of safety throughout the organization. Obviously, this can be seen in hard data such as reducing the frequency of accidents or incidents. There are also intangible benefits that come from a strengthened corporate culture that values safety an employee feedback.

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