SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS Essay Example

20Safety management

Abstract

Good safety management through SMS is more than just a moral or a legal requirement. Over the years, it has become evident that SMS can increase the profits of a Company and enhance its operating performance as well as its safety defences. They key aim of this essay will be to prove that good safety management is more than just a moral or a legal requirement. Good safety management is a business necessity that helps to facilitate a proactive process of identifying and addressing safety risks and hazards. Some of the benefits associated with safety management systems in businesses include; reduction of number of accidents, reduction of accident associated costs and down time, increased access to new business partners and customers and reduced public liability insurance costs.

Introduction

SMS be described as a set of comprehensive and coordinated processes that are designed to control and direct resources in order to manage safety optimally. SMS often incorporates distinct processes and builds these processes into coherent structures in order to realise a high level of performance in safety this in turn makes safety management a vital aspects of the overall risk management process. Effective SMS are based on accountability and leadership. In order for SMS to be effective it requires proactive risk management, hazard identification, training and auditing and information control. Furthermore, analysis and investigation of incidences and accidents are essential aspects of SMS (IHST, 2007). Safety management systems (SMS) can also be described as a management approach particularly in the transportation industries that is implemented in order to minimise risks and ensure safety in the work environment. SMS incorporates policies, procedures and practices that are geared towards managing safety (Transport Canada, 2010).

Good safety management through SMS is more than just a moral or a legal requirement. Over the years, it has become evident that SMS can increase the profits of a Company and enhance its operating performance as well as its safety defences. The key aim of this essay will be to prove that good safety management is more than just a moral or a legal requirement. This essay will depict ways in which SMS can help to increase the profits of a Company and enhance its operating performance as well as its safety defences. Foremost, this essay will examine the components of SMS. Secondly, it will establish the significance of safety management systems. Subsequently, this paper will provide evidence on the ways in which safety management systems can help Companies increase their profits and enhance their operating performance and safety defences.

Components of SMS and their role in enhancing safety defenses

Improving safety is a complex task, every state has different government agencies, public and private organizations that specialize in managing safety. Given the fact that ensuring safety is a complex task especially in the transport systems, good safety management should be comprehensive. According to Depue et al (2003) good safety management should include broad-base mitigation and prevention strategies that revolve around engineering, education, emergency services and enforcement. Moreover, good safety management systems should incorporate systematic process that are designed to aid decision makers in identifying effective strategies that improve the safety and efficiency of transportation systems. Key findings of surveys indicate that in areas that continue to implement effective SMS processes, success has been reported with regards to enhancing communication and coordination, addressing safety issues and increasing awareness on safety issues (Depue et al, 2003).

The components of SMS vary, however, there are several fundamental attributes of safety management that are vital in ensuring the effectiveness of SMS in any organization. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) guidelines on “Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems”, some of the basic components of effective safety management systems in include; policy, organization, planning and implementation, evaluation and strategies for improvement. With reference to the ILO safety guidelines establishing policy is a vital requirement for SMS. Policies revolving around SMS incorporate stipulations that depict the commitment of the organization in safety management with regards to its safety targets and resources. Organization as a component of SMS defines the structure of the organization and the responsibilities in terms of who is responsible for what and who reports to whom. The ILO safety guidelines require that SMS should incorporate planning and implementation aspects which depict the kind of standards and legislations that apply to a particular organization (ILO, 2001).Furthermore, the planning and implementation aspects of SMS include the definition of safety objectives, how they are reviewed, strategies of preventing risks and the evaluation and management of risks. With regards to the Evaluation aspects of SMS, the ILO guidelines require that the evaluation aspects of SMS, should convey how safety management is weighed and evaluated. It should also include, the process that have been put in place to review the internal and external audit processes and the processes for the reporting of incidents and accidents. In addition, the ILO safety guidelines require that SMS should incorporate strategies for improvement. This feature should be part of SMS so as to depict how corrective and preventive strategies are managed and to show which processes have been put in place so as to ensure that SMS undergo continuous improvements (ILO, 2001).

On the other hand, according to the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) some of the fundamental attributes of SMS include; SMS Management Plan, Hazard Identification and Risk Management, Occurrence Investigation and Analysis, Safety Management Training Requirements, Safety Promotion, Occurrence and Hazard Reporting, Document and Data Information Management, Safety Assurance Oversight Programs, Management of Changes, Emergency Preparedness and Response and Performance Measurement and Continuous Improvement (IHST, 2007). According to the IHST SMS guidelines, a SMS Management Plan should define the safety goals of the organizations and how the organization intends to implement and evaluate the success of the SMS. Furthermore, the management plan should illustrate how the SMS supports the objective and business plan of the organization This shows that SMS should not only incorporate a myriad of requirements rather SMS should also incorporate aspects that are in line and support the objectives and business plan of an organization(IHST, 2007).

The IHST SMS guidelines require that the safety promotion aspect of SMS should convey the commitment of the management towards the organization’s SMS. The commitment of the management on the SMS should be demonstrated through the organization’s procedures, training, practices and resource allocation. With reference to the IHST SMS guidelines, the Documents and Data Information Management aspects of SMS should include the organization’s procedures of identifying and managing information that is useful for ensuring the compliance of SMS objectives, procedures and policies. Moreover, the IHST SMS guidelines require that the Hazard Identification and Risk Management aspects of SMS should depict and develop the processes that are to be used to identify and manage risks (IHST, 2007). On the other hand, the Occurrence and Hazard Reporting aspect of SMS should incorporate procedures for internal reporting of hazards, feedback to the person reporting and the processes used to analyse safety reports and other safety related data (IHST, 2007).

In a SMS, Occurrence Investigation and Analysis involve processes that determine “what” happened and “why” the incident occurred. This process ensures that the investigator is technically qualified to conduct the investigation. This process also identifies the contributing factors such as the organization’s act of commission or omission. Furthermore, this process facilitates that development of a report with recommendations that will help avert the alleged incidences from occurring in future. The IHST SMS guidelines require that the Safety Assurance Oversight Programs aspects of SMS should comprise of programs that assess the effectiveness of the SMS in the organization. These programs are geared towards improving the organization’s safety services. The IHST SMS guidelines require that Safety Assurance Oversight Programs should proactively identify potential hazards by evaluating the organization’s safety program and by using the available data (IHST, 2007). With reference to IHST SMS guidelines on Safety Management Training Requirements, effective training management should provide competency qualifications for personnel, it should also have a system for tracking training requirements. Additionally, it should incorporate effective use of trade journals, workshops, conferences and other related literatures. It should also incorporate a safety orientation that stresses to the new personnel on the organization’s commitment to SMS and safety in general (IHST, 2007).

According to IHST SMS guidelines on Management of Changes, proper systems of managing changes in procedures, organizational structure, documentation and personnel should be put in to place. This will ensure that inadvertent introduction of increased risks and hazards are minimized. The systems of managing change should include processes that evaluate change in operational procedures so as to identify the change in equipment, training or documentation. Moreover, these systems should ensure that all operation and maintenance manuals are in line with the most recent changes (IHST, 2007). Emergency Preparedness and Response plan is also one of the recommended IHST requirements for SMS. This SMS aspect states in writing what actions should be taken when accidents or incidences occur and who or what department is responsible for each action. This plan helps to prepare the organization for emergencies, it also helps to reduce or avert incidences of injuries to personnel and the damage of properties or equipments. In order for, Emergency Preparedness and Response plan in SMS to be effective they should be regularly exercised so as to ensure the readiness of the people in charge and the adequacy of the overall plan (IHST, 2007). Lastly, Performance Measurement is also one of the one of the recommended IHST requirements for SMS. Performance Measurement is essential since it helps to proactively and continuously monitor whether the safety goals of an organization are being actualized. IHST requirements for SMS provide that Performance measurements should be tailored to the complexity, nature and size of the organization. In addition, the performance measurements should be linked to the operations performance measures of the organization (IHST, 2007).

Basically, both the ILO and IHST fundamental components of SMS depict that good safety management through SMS is more than just a moral or a legal requirement. Instead, effective safety management systems can help to enhance the operating performance and safety defences of an organization.

The
significance of SMS in improving the operation performance

Currently, the aviation system is characterized by more and more complex and diverse networks of governmental organizations and businesses. As a result of the rapid transformation in the aviation operational business environment, there is need for aviation organizations to continuously adapt to these changes so as to maintain their competitive advantage, relevance and viability (Advisory Circular , 2006).Aviation systems are increasingly becoming global. It is only a few supplier networks, business entities markets and operations that are completely confined within the boundaries of a single state. These characteristics of change, diversity and complexity further heighten the importance of effective management of business functions that are imperative to safety operations. In as much as safety measures in the aviation system have so far been successful, the quick increase in the variety and volume of operation in aviation systems limit the existing safety practices and strategies. Furthermore, decrease in resources that are to be used by both the government and business operations further heightens the safety problems in the aviation systems (Advisory Circular, 2006). Consequently, this has brought about a fresh look at safety measures for the future. In order to effectively address the problems revolving around decreased resources and increased aviation activity it is essential to incorporate safety efforts into the existing management framework of aviation systems. Just as government and business organizations manage other factors of business effectively, so as to maintain their competitive advantage and realise their goals in maintaining the viability of their businesses, safety management should be treated as a business approach that should be managed effectively. In the aviation system this innovation is often referred to as “Safety Management Systems.” This term validates the fact that safety efforts are most effective when they are incorporated into the management oversight and operations of a business or an organization (Advisory Circular, 2006).

The need for good safety management is not only a legal requirement for Air Navigation or other transport service providers but it is also a business necessity. Legislations in most countries require Air Navigation or other transport service providers to have effective SMS that must be subjected to independent audit regularly. In any business, company or organization minimising hazards and risk reduction is often an essential goal (AAT, 2010). In instances where safety challenges occur the implementation of effective SMS often ensures that the risk bearing factors or events are entirely mitigated by reducing and containing the damage. Moreover, in such a case effective SMS ensures that necessary steps are taken so as to proactively eliminate any possible future occurrences. By conducting a formal process of safety assessment and risk and hazard analysis, effective measures can be implemented in order to reduce the probability of accidents or incidences occurring for the first time and to contain the severity of these accidents or incidences. This can inturn help businesses, companies or organizations to realise their goal of risk reduction (AAT, 2010).

The safety of the aviation industry and other transport industries is imperative with regards to both incident or accident prevention and the overall financial performance of the industry. The implementation of SMS facilitates a more coordinated process of addressing safety issues. Some industry groups that have implemented safety management through effective SMS report that good safety management offers great value to their businesses. For instance, in Aviation companies whereby effective SMS are implemented, clients are maintained and more customers are attracted this in turn boosts the success and performance of the Company (Transport Canada, 2010b). Therefore, it is safe to conclude that good safety management is more than just a moral or a legal requirement. Good safety management can also help to increase the profits of a Company and enhance its operating performance.

SMS is an integral part of organizations especially in the aviation industry or other transport industries. SMS is essential since it helps to facilitate a proactive process of identifying risks and hazards. SMS also help to develop and enforce a culture of safety by modifying the actions and attitudes of personnel so as to create a safe and secure workplace. Safety management systems also help organizations to avoid wasting management time, human resources and financial resources that are often focused on irrelevant issues in a bid to guarantee safety (IHST, 2007).Through SMS substantial safety issues can be addressed so as to counter both short-term and long-term safety problems. Moreover, SMS helps organizations to identify and evaluate risks and develop a business case to substantiate controls that will minimise risks to acceptable levels. Safety management systems are a proven model for risk management that vertically and laterally combines all the elements of a Company so as to ensure that resources are allocated appropriately in order to address safety issues (IHST, 2007).

In order for any aviation organization or any other organization to realize its performance or production goals, managing business processes is essential. Safety management is one of the integral business processes of an organization. Safety management is considered as a fundamental business function just like Human resource management and financial management among many other business functions (Kohli, 2007). Bottani, Monica & Vignali (2009) conducted a study with the aim of establishing the difference between organizations that implement SMS and organizations that do not implement any form of SMS. In order to establish this they incorporated empirical investigation to establish whether the performance of adopting and non-performing companies differ statistically in their performance. The hypothesis test of their study was conducted to evaluate whether companies that have adopted SMS experience higher performance than companies that have not adopted SMS. Some of the areas evaluated in this study include; definition of security and safety goals, risk analysis and data updating, communication to employees, identification of risks , the definition of corrective actions and employees training. The findings of this study indicated that companies that have adopted SMS realise higher performance as compared to companies that have not adopted SMS (Bottani, Monica & Vignali, 2009). Based on the findings of this study, it is evident that good safety management is more than just a moral or a legal requirement. Good safety management can also help to increase the profits of a Company and enhance its operating performance.

Some of the safety benefits associated with the adoption of SMS in businesses and organizations include the fact that SMS is largely a quality management approach that can be used by organizations to control risks. It also gives Companies an organizational framework that can be used to promote and support an effective safety culture. For certified operators like aviation training organizations, taxi operators and airlines, SMS serve as an efficient means of interfacing FAA certificate oversight organizations. In addition, SMS gives the management of companies a concise road map for managing and monitoring safety related measures. This in turn helps to enhance the safety defenses of companies (Advisory Circular, 2006). Apart from offering the management of aviation service provider’s a structured set of tools that meet the set legal responsibilities, SMS also plays a great role in enhancing businesses. The development and execution of SMS can promote the performance and profitability of companies. SMS incorporates quality assurance and internal evaluation concepts that can bring about continuous improvements in the structure of management and the process of operation. In addition, SMS is designed to enable the integration of safety measures into the business model of operators, it also incorporates other systems like occupational safety, quality and environmental control systems that operators can put into place in order to enhance the performance of their businesses. In other industries whereby SMS has been incorporated into the business model, the benefits of continuous improvements and process management have brought about financial benefits as well (Advisory Circular, 2006).

Safety is a key concern for most businesses however setting up safety management systems can be challenging. Good safety management should help businesses to gain competitive advantages. Reduce costs and control risks. It is often challenging to address the various aspects revolving around safety and as a result certain safety issues are often overlooked and mistakes are repeated. However, implementing good safety management practices not only helps an organization to comply with legal obligations, but it also ensures that members of the workforce know how things functions and what action to take in case of any accident or incident. In addition SMS form the basis for continuous improvement this in turn enables businesses to run more safely and efficiently. In many organizations and businesses, safety management is often overlooked due to the complex and time consuming nature that many occupations require. Nonetheless, when most organizations are under pressure, they look for quick fixes instead of finding suitable solutions that can aid in managing safety in the long-run. On the other hand, in organizations whereby SMS are implemented, the organizations have control over situations. The implementation of SMS provides organizations with structured and consistent approach of managing safety and making future improvements (McDonald, Daly & Cromie, 2000).

Incorporating good safety management into the business model can help to simplify the running of a business, it can also improve the operation performance of a business. Better results can be achieved when members in the workforce implement safety strategies in a consistent and synchronised manner. A consistent approach in safety management can help to minimise the occurrences of mistakes and reduced the amount of resources used to correct the problems that come as a result of these mistakes. Incorporating effective safety management systems can also help to minimise the level of risks associated with negligence on the part of the management of the organization and the workforce since effective SMS help the personnel in the organization to know what actions to take in case of accidents or incidences (McDonald, Daly & Cromie, 2000).

Maintaining employees and clients and attracting new customers is one of the key objectives of most businesses. When good SMS are implemented in an organization, employees will see that the management is proactively looking after their safety, this will inturn promote better work relations, the morale of employees will improve thus improving the performance of employees at work. Furthermore, the public will see that the management is taking a responsible attitude towards the safety of its customers and employees; this will inturn improve the image of the organization and it will also help to generate positive public relation for the business. Customers are bound to subscribe to the services of organizations the guarantee their safety. In addition, implementing good SMS can help to attract investors from government agencies and large companies. The implementation of effective SMS bestows confidence to investors that an alleged business or organization has effective management systems that can generate good performance and profits (McDonald, Daly & Cromie, 2000).

Generally, benefits associated with safety management systems in businesses include; reduction of number of accidents, reduction of accident associated costs and down time, increased access to new business partners and customers and reduced public liability insurance costs. Furthermore, the incorporation of SMS helps to meet regulatory and legal requirements, it demonstrates to stakeholders the commitment of the organization to safety. In addition safety management systems demonstrate an organizations forward thinking and innovative approach (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2008). It is also worth noting that the performance employee plays an integral role in improving the operating performance and profitability of a company. Nevertheless, when employees feel that their safety is threatened in their work environment their performance may dwindle or it can be affected negatively. SMS can help to enhance the performance of employees, the performance of employees is bound to improve when they are confident that they work in a safe work environment (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2008).

Conclusion

Safety management systems are a set of comprehensive and coordinated processes that are designed to control and direct resources in order to manage safety optimally. In order for SMS to be effective it requires proactive risk management, hazard identification, training and auditing and information control
(IHST, 2007). The need for good safety management is not only a legal requirement for service providers but it is also a business necessity. It is evident that SMS can help to increase the profits of a Company and enhance its operating performance as well as its safety defences. The findings of studies such as those conducted by Bottani, Monica & Vignali (2009) depict that the performance of organizations that implement SMS and organizations that do not implement any form of SMS differs significantly. According to this study companies that have adopted SMS realise higher performance as compared to companies that have not adopted SMS. Some of the benefits associated with safety management systems in businesses include; reduction of number of accidents, reduction of accident associated costs and down time, increased access to new business partners and customers and reduced public liability insurance costs
(McDonald, Daly & Cromie, 2000). It is therefore evident that good safety management is more than just a moral or a legal requirement. Good safety management can also help to increase the profits of a Company and enhance its operating performance.

References

Advances Aviation Technology (AAT) (2010). Safety Management. Retrieved on May 12, 2011 from <http://www.aatl.net/services/safetymanagement.htm>

Advisory Circular (2006). Introduction to safety management systems of air operators. Retrieved on May 12, 2011 from <http://www.atcvantage.com/docs/AC_120- 92+Draft_AC120-92A.pdf>

Bottani, E., Monica, L. & Vignali, G.(2009). Safety management Systems: Performance differences between adopters and non-adopters. Safety Science, Vol 47(2), pp.155-162.

Depue, L. & National Research Council (2003). Safety management systems: a synthesis of highway practice. New York: Transportation Research Board.

International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) (2007). Safety Management System Toolkit. Presented at the International Helicopter Safety Symposium 2007. Montréal, Québec.

International Labour Office (ILO) (2001). Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems. International Labour Office, Geneva, Switzerland.

Kohli, S. (2007). Safety Management System. Bangalore International Airport Limited.

McDonald, N., Daly, C. & Cromie, S. (2000). Safety management systems and safety culture in aircraft maintenance organisations. Safety Science 34(1-3): 151-176.

Stolzer, A., Halford, C. & Goglia, J. (2008). Safety management systems in Aviation. London: Ashgate Publishing.

Transport Canada (2010). Basic Definition. Retrieved on May 12, 2011 from <http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/sms-basic-2838.htm>

Transport Canada (2010b). Safety Management Systems. Retrieved on May 12, 2011 from <http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/sms-menu-618.htm>