If safety risk management is the ‘looking forward’ component of the SMS, the third component – Safety assurance – is the ongoing ‘maintenance’. Each organisation has their own unique challenges and personnel and therefore each SMS is unique. Further, SMS should not remain the same. It is an evolving process that changes with time and activity. Safety assurance ensures the SMS is always relevant, reviewed, updated and appropriate.
The data gathered in this third component is fed back into the SMS and may update the risk analysis. A formal process of safety review can be a means of confirming the effective functioning of the SMS, as it is documented.
Size and complexity of an organisations will determine the method and detail of safety oversight. For example, small non-complex organisations will not need Flight Data Analysis Program where as (under CASR Part 119) it is anticipated large aircraft operations will.
A safety system can be validated by feedback that it is working (or not). The stakeholders requiring, and giving feedback include staff, management, passengers, The Board, shareholders…
Once system performance is determined, changes can be effected to improve safety if required. Measurement against safety peformance indicators (SPIs) dictate if change needs to be implemented or if the SPIs are even still relevant.
There are many simple and effective ways to measure safety performance.
Critical to this element is an understanding (and belief) that investigating an event is NOT about apportioning blame to individuals, but identifying systematic causes and remedial/corrective action. This policy and protocol will be clearly defined when a fair and just culture is in place.
There is a recommended internal safety investigation process. There is also a national unit of competency for Root Cause Analysis.
Use of SHELL and the Reason model may be appropriate to consider the HF input into an event investigation.
Changes within an organisation can create safety issues and new hazards. Correct management of this will allow more efficient operations without compromising any element of safety.
Management of change needs to be considered whenever it is identified there will be an impact on;
- Personnel or equipment
- Processes and procedures
- Control and organisational structure
SMS should not remain the same. It is an evolving, living process that will mature with the organisation. Whenever a weakness or fault with the system is identified, change should be effected.
Regular review and monitor of SMS will ensure is remains current and appropriate. The Safety Action Group (the working safety group) and the Safety Review Committee (the management safety oversight group) are the appropriate forums to instigate change to the SMS