Is SMS working for your business?

5 questions to check if you’re wasting resources on safety management:

1. Can you identify the safety management function within your organisation?

If you can identify the part of your organisation that deals with safety management then you’re probably doing it wrong. Managing safety should be integral to the way everyone in the business works every day, not the responsibility of a special unit.

2. Do you approach safety-related decisions differently to commercial decisions?

Don’t. Whenever you make a decision in your organisation you need to consider the risks and the potential rewards. If you’re planning to enter a new market, acquire a new piece of equipment or hire somebody, you are going to weigh the potential benefit against the risk that things won’t go as planned. You’ll weigh the additional revenue, or reduced cost, against the probability of failure. You should be using the same processes to evaluate safety risks. The commercial and the safety implications should be considered for every decision, large or small.

3. Do you consider the safety impact of every decision?

Decisions that are taken far from the ‘front line’ can have an impact on safety. The impact may not be immediately obvious and may even take years to be revealed but the safety impact of every decision needs to be considered. In an airline, this might be a ‘commercial’ decision to start a new route, amend a schedule or even change the catering. In a building project, it might be the decision to select a cheaper material for external cladding. Bad decisions that don’t consider safety implications could cost lives, money and could even bring about the downfall of an otherwise successful businesses.

4. Is your safety manager responsible for safety?

S/he shouldn’t be. The job of the Safety Manager is to monitor and report on safety performance and help decision-makers to interpret safety data. Every manager who takes a decision must take responsibility for the safety implications of that decision in the same way as s/he is responsible for the financial implications.

5. Are you putting a lot of extra resources into safety management?

You shouldn’t have to. When you first implement SMS you may need IT tools and new processes to help you evaluate and record risks. You’ll also need to invest in training all staff, especially decision-makers, in risk assessment and mitigation. Once the SMS is established and mature there should be minimal resource specifically dedicated to ‘safety’. Safety will be something that is integral to everybody’s work.

Just a benefit, not a cost.

At McKechnie Aviation we believe that SMS shouldn’t have a cost. Managing Safety should be an integral part of how your organisation runs and should contribute to commercial success. To find out how we can help you make SMS work for business please get in touch, or come to our seminar on ‘Aviation Management Systems for Business Efficiency’.

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