What’s in Your Toolbox?

Knowing what a safety management system (SMS) is does not equate to implementing one. It is an endeavor that takes time, effort, and money. However, it produces a return on investment that can be measured directly and indirectly. These measures of success...


4. Develop formal communica-tion to personnel of findings from reactive safety events.

5. Determine SMS software needs/packages available as well as current and future company needs.

Phase 3

Implementation of risk management processes such as a confidential safety reporting system, hazard identification and tracking system with feedback mechanism, FOQA, regularly scheduled systemic safety audits, and task analyses for all safety-related activities.

1. Set up a risk-management working group to assess acceptable levels of risk.

2. Define the risk assessment tools and risk control mechanisms when an unacceptable level of risk has been identified.

3. Deliver training on these proactive and predictive safety management processes.

4. Provide formal communication to personnel concerning these proactive and predictive tools including why they are beneficial.

5. Coordinate and maintain reactive safety data synthesized with proactive and predictive safety data (when this becomes available) from combined analyses tools.

Phase 4

1. Refine the safety performance indicators and performance targets commenced in Phase 1 (Part 9).

2. Develop SMS continuous improvement initiatives.

3. Develop training and documentation relevant to operational safety assurance.

4. Maintain and upgrade as needed the processes for safety communication.

Tools for the toolbox

In implementing a SMS there are many areas within our own organization where we can (and probably will) make mistakes. It may be the right toolbox, but we may not have the right tools or we may not be using them correctly. It helps to have external evaluations conducted to ensure we are not biased in what we see, or fail to see, within our own confines.

To achieve individual ownership, each of us can personally have an impact on the process by considering the following:

1. Be aware of what is expected of us — and others — in the new system.

2. Make a conscious effort to educate ourselves about changes.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand why you are making the changes.

4. Be prepared to provide constructive feedback.

5. Try to fight the normal human urge to resist change.

6. The human can be both the strongest tool — as well as the weakest tool — in our toolbox.

7. It is up to you as to what influence you will have on the success of the SMS.

8. This is about making our industry safer and therefore more financially viable.

9. We all win if the SMS is successful.

We need to constantly remind people what is in it for them. If we fail to let our people know, they are much less likely to support the initiative.

So we have a toolbox, and we now know the basic structure of the toolbox, and have a few tools that may need to go in that toolbox. Keep in mind, not all tools are needed in all toolboxes, and we may change the look of some of our tools to do the work we want to do in our organization. However, we must use the tools in the toolbox for this to work. Managing our personnel as individuals, many with a normal fear of change, is the best tool for success in this process. As noted by the title, a SMS is a toolbox, but it is only as good as the tools we have in it, and how those tools are used and maintained.

Ready to throw the tools out with the toolbox yet?

This process may seem a little daunting initially, but many organizations are already actively using parts of a SMS. Remember, it will be a change, it will be somewhat uncomfortable, and it will not happen overnight. But we should not be afraid to embrace this new system as it is about keeping our industry — and each of us — safer.

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