Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preparing the Aviation Safety Policy Statement

Preparing Your Airline/Airport Safety Policy Statement

Management supports aviation safety management systems (SMS) by establishing safety standards and policies for their respective airline or airport. To be effective, top management must encourage participation in the entire SMS process and strive to instill a sense of ownership within the rest of the management team. To instill this sense of ownership and lower resistance to change, top management must facilitate the flow of safety information. Furthermore, top management support encompasses supporting safety objectives by allocating required resources to those responsible for implementing the aviation safety management program.

Sample aviation safety policy template example
After acquiring top management support, the airline or airport's SMS champion will begin drafting a safety policy statement that must be accepted by upper management.

Safety Policy Statement

What is a safety policy statement? Your airline or airport's safety policy establishes a unified direction for the organization. An effective safety policy statement outlines the course of action within the airline or airport regarding all safety matters. Safety policy statements coherently express the vision of how your airline or airport reacts to safety related events.

What Should the Safety Policy Statement Achieve? 

Every safety policy should be viewed as a management tool to communicate to all stakeholders top management's commitment to safe operations and continuous improvement. All staff and stakeholders should be able to easily understand that safety remains a management priority and is expected to be a priority for everyone interacting with the airline or airport. Safety policies should not be long laborious documents that require a college education to understand. The most effective safety policy should be written in a manner that a middle-school student can easily understand the content and intentions.

How Are Safety Policy Statements Drafted? 

Your airline or airport should have a safety policy illustrating how safety is viewed and managed within your organization., and how it is considered as part of operations. To obtain regulatory approval of your aviation safety management system, every airline or airport will need to have their safety policies and objectives approved. This exercise if normally conducted (review of safety policy) after the airline or airport finishes the initial SMS documentation. Don't worry about making your SMS documentation perfect, as your SMS documentation should remain flexible and easily modifiable as regulatory requirements and the environmental influences induce change.

Every safety policy statement must be approved by the Accountable Executive or upper management. This approval process helps to document top management support for the commitment to safety management principles and the subsequent implementation. As stated earlier, the safety policy statement is normally developed during the intitial preparation of the SMS documentation.

Developing the Aviation Safety Policy Statement

Safety policy statements address high-level concepts. Perhaps the easiest way to draft the safety policy statement is by acquiring a safety policy template to use as an example. The safety policy template can be used in a brain storming session during a management meeting. In every case, keep the safety policy as simple as possible and limit to one page if possible.

Shallow empty platitudes, such as management's commitment to "make safety their highest priority" are not realistic. Many safety policies make these empty promises with little effect. Effective safety policies should consider:
  • Top management commitment to implement the aviation SMS
  • Top management commitment to devote necessary resources to the safety program
  • Organizational commitment to achieve continuous safety improvement
  • Non-punitive reporting statement to encourage reporting safety issues

This list is not exhaustive and every airline or airport will have a unique safety policy that outlines what is important to the operation.

After top management has an acceptable safety policy, the policy must signed and dated. Disseminate the safety policy statement to all employees and contractors. The safety policy should be reviewed on a regular basis. In most cases, this exercise is performed annually.

Examples of Safety Policy Statements & Other Aviation Policies

About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. In 2007, NWDS developed SMS Pro™ a web based SMS application that supports an organization's overall SMS through safety reporting, safety documentation, safety risk management and safety assurance. SMS Pro™ is currently used by aviation organizations in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East to help manage their SMS programs. NWDS continues to support SMS Pro™ and add new functionality. NWDS offers custom contract programming services in the U.S. and Canada and is managed by Chris Howell, one of the founders. Their headquarters is in Anchorage, Alaska. For information on NWDS visit their website at www.nwds-ak.com and www.asms-pro.com to learn more about SMS Pro™.


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