Safety management system (SMS) relates to keeping organizations safe from both external and internal risks through policies, internal processes, procedures and strategies (Wold & Laumann, 2015).The four pillars of SMS include establishment of a safety policy, risk management, safety assurance and safety promotion. The pillar of safety entails establishing management commitment to safety performance of an organization. The management sets clear objectives, defines methods, processes and organizational structure that will be utilized to meet safety goals. Further, employees are involved to ensure there is transparency in the management of safety. This includes documentation of policy, establishment of an employee reporting and resolution system, and creating accountability for both management and employees (Federal Aviation Authority, 2016).
Risk management is also an important pillar that helps safety teams to determine the need for new or revised risk controls. At the heart of this component is the identification of hazards, inclusion of risks in the process of decision making, and determination of the levels of risks from various threats (Leib & Lu, 2013). Risk controls are pegged to assessed risks within the organization. During this phase, organizational activities are identified, assessed and analyzed before the institution of risk controls is carried out. This phase helps to establish the adequacy of new systems in so far as mitigation of risks is concerned (Stolzer & Goglia, 2016; Federal Aviation Authority, 2016).
Safety assurance as another pillar of SMS which provides mechanisms that are used to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of risk controls that have been instituted to detect threats (Federal Aviation Authority, 2016). As indicated in the preceding discussion, risk controls have safety goals and objectives. As such, this phase allows organizations to interrogate the positive outcomes of risk control measures so as to make decisions as to whether the introduction of the new risk control actually meets or exceeds the expectations in terms of safety (Stolzer & Goglia, 2016).It also involves monitoring safety management processes and practices that have been introduced by new risk controls. This function relies on audits, data analyses and employee reports to institute corrective actions so as to minimize reoccurrence of hazards. At institutions such as airport companies, transparency of information ensures that results of audits and reviews are shared with the public (Leib & Lu, 2013). This helps the management to get feedback on the value of new safety controls and also devise better mitigating actions.
Safety promotion is the last pillar of SMS, and it involves building a positive safety culture within the organization so as to ensure all employees and other stakeholders are engaged in the process of mitigating threats (Leib & Lu, 2013).This is done through training and establishing effective communication channels between employees and senior decision makers. This is expected to create competency among employees and also increase acceptance of risk control initiatives among employees(Federal Aviation Authority, 2016).For example, some companies advertise to employees through newsletters and fliers to keep them abreast of the latest methods of mitigating threats(Leib & Lu, 2013).
Federal Aviation Authority. (2016). Safety Management System Components. Retrieved from https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/sms/explained/components/
Leib, S., & Lu, C. (2013). A Gap Analysis of Airport Safety Using ICAO SMS Perspectives: A Field Study of Taiwan. Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering, 2(2). doi:10.7771/2159-6670.1078
Stolzer, A. J., & Goglia, J. J. (2016). Safety management systems in aviation. Abingdon: Routledge.
Wold, T., & Laumann, K. (2015). Safety management systems - definitions, challenges for use and recommendations for improvements. Science Monitor, 1(1), 1-11.
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