SMS, Plain And Simple

You may not know some important parts of an SMS are already in place.


Over the past month, fellow blogger John Goglia and I have both written about safety issues – or, rather, unsafety issues on our blogs.

On a recent flight out of Logan, for example, John felt the unmistakable jolt of the plane running over something. Upon further review, that something turned out to be chocks left behind.

We both wrote about an accident with a tow bar that ended with an expensive private plane atop another in Nashville. (We had a lively discussion about this incident on our LinkedIn Group by the way.)

Most recently, I mentioned how a United Airlines employee hit an engine on the United jet that was standing in as practice for deicing training.

John put it well when he considered the significance of the forgotten chocks and wondered if the ground crew was rushed … or just sloppy … or, worse, rushed and sloppy.

Which do you think it is?

Regardless of the choice, setting up a safety management system seems mandatory. A column on SMS written by DeborahAnn Cavalcante for our sister magazine, AMT, says her clients typically can’t get past the notion that implementing an SMS is an overwhelming task at first.

But once started, she explains many clients are surprised to find out they already have some parts of an SMS in place.

“However, a direct correlation between policies, programs, systems and procedures may be missing,” she says.

As it turns out, SMS tools themselves, such as gap analysis, can determine what’s missing and what actions should be taken to fill in the gaps.

Then, drawing a common thread through these scattered pieces becomes the real challenge.

“The golden rule is that the organization’s executives must ‘buy in’ to the SMS success and remain engaged in the process throughout the entire development and implementation by committing the time, resources and effort that it will require,” she adds.

She offers the following advice to pull an SMS program together:

  • Stay engaged throughout the organization from the very top position in the organization to the newly hired employee.
  • Determine what processes and procedures of SMS you have and what you need.
  • Document those procedures.
  • Link the processes and procedures together by communicating.
  • Use reporting to identify and mitigate risks.
  • Monitor, measure and improve your SMS continually.
  • View hazard reports as opportunities to enhance and improve safety.

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