The person managing the operation of the SMS fulfils the required job functions and responsibilities to meet regulatory requirements. An effective Safety Management System is lead by a person who is technically qualified and understand the interaction of all systems. An airline and airport are to ensure that the person who occupy the position as SMS Manger is qualified to lead and manage for regulatory compliance. The regulations for an SMS manager is written with ambiguity, or written for being open to more than one interpretation. This is how a performance based regulation is written to allow for the application of size and complexity to conform to regulatory compliance in operation. Since there is no establish standards the enterprise must first establish their standards, or expectations and then the qualifications requirement for that position before the effective date of their SMS.
Ambiguity is in the design.
One of the items an SMS manager is expected to lead and manage is to establish and maintain a reporting system to ensure the timely collection of information related to hazards, incidents and accidents that may adversely affect safety. An SMS manager with technical knowledge and intelligence of the specifics of operations may know and understand the effect of unsafe conditions also needs to be qualified to develop a reporting system to ensure timely collection of information. It is the task of the enterprise to ensure that the person in the SMS manager position has these skills required to develop and maintain a system. Without these skills applied to an SMS manager, an enterprise may slowly drift away from the regulatory performance requirements.
Another skill required is to identify hazards and carry out risk management analyses of those hazards. A safety risk management of hazards is to apply likelihood and severity of a hazard as it applies to the operations of an airport or airline. If there is no exposure to the hazard there is no risk involved. In my many years of analyzing Safety Management Systems I have heard the opinion from regulators that a pilot is exposed to an engine failure for each takeoff and the reasoning for this is that an engine failure could happen, and that the pre-take off briefing includes the actions in the event of an engine failure. This is true, that an engine failure is a hazard, but it is not true that a pilot is exposed to an engine failure at each takeoff. The exposure determines the risk and if not exposed to the hazard there is no risk. The preparation for an engine failure is a corrective action plan to action the risk if exposed.
As the root cause analysist, the SMS manager is defining time and location of the fork in the road.
When the person managing the operation of the SMS fulfils the required job functions and responsibilities established by the policies, standards and job performance expectations the enterprise has established a foundation for an effective SMS with tailored job functions to one specific enterprise and not intended for duplication.