Saturday, June 27, 2015

Take SMS With You On The Road

A Safety Management System (SMS) is to take with you on the road, where action to safety is the focus point. SMS is not a tabletop exercise to conform to regulatory requirements, but a hands-on exercise to conform to safe operations.

It might be tempting to leave SMS back at the office with the stack of may other regulatory requirement for any operation. This could be as air operator,  transportation operator or just as simple as a private vehicle operator. What counts for safety is how operations are managed with processes, or how things are done.

Regulatory compliance keeps you floating, while safety management keeps you flying.
History of safety records is not guarantee of a future high safety rating.  Changes in processes are at times minor and almost not noticeable, but accumulative with several minor unnoticeable process changes over time. Without process monitoring there is no way to discover issues which could lead to incidents.  

When the regulatory compliant SMS system is left behind at the office it is not possible to detect operational process changes, or changes in how tings are done, until there is a breakdown in the system. This breakdown could be a simple administrative task, or a major system failure.  What is relevant is how an operator manages process to capture changes in expectations, or process goals. 

When SMS comes with you on the road the system becomes a natural part of day to day activities. SMS becomes the safety culture, the just culture and a culture to foster discovery of process changes, or non-punitive reporting. When decisions are based solely on history the outcome is not managed but assumed. When decision making is based on process review the outcome is managed. 

Safety operations from an office desk is like managing safety through a window.
This is how it goes; If you keep a regulatory compliant SMS on the shelves, it does nothing for safety in operations. You need to take SMS with you on the road to ensure you meet the bar of safety expectations, or safety goals.

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