Aviation SMS Safety Policies & Procedures
Policies and procedures remain one of the fundamental items SMS auditors review when evaluating the state of airline/airport safety management systems. More audit findings and concerns revolve around policies than other items.
Reasoning is that it is easy for auditors to evaluate whether a particular policy or procedure exists. Following up on this thread, auditors then will review the airline or airport operations and determine whether employees actually conduct operations according to the stated policies and procedures.
Policies & Procedures provides a means to post and manage safety or other policies and procedures on the company "Web portal" where employees and other stakeholders can easily access them.
Business Need: Demonstrate to auditors that policies and procedures are regularly reviewed.
Your company safety policy statement should be visible to all employees. It does no good if it is collecting dust on a shelf. When you purchase SMS Pro™, you get access to sample policy statements.
If you came to this page for a safety policy statement example, click here to see the downloads.
Software to Manage Policies & Procedures
Policies & Procedures allows users to:
- View organizational policies and procedures online using iPad, iPhone, Laptop or Desktop
- Easily add and edit policies & procedures from a Web-based word processor
- Copy and paste your safety policy or procedures into the editor and publish!
- Keep track of "last review" dates for policies and procedures to provide auditors assurance that policies are regularly reviewed
- Setup automated "email review reminders" for each policy and procedures, with up to two advanced notices before the review due date
- Prove to auditors you are regularly reviewing these policies by the built-in audit trail
As a bonus, policies appear in context. For example, the Non-punitive Reporting Policy appears in the Hazard/Issue Reporting Module, but is easily edited by authorized users.
Your safety policy or procedures outlines your airline or airport's approach for managing safety in your organization. Furthermore, commitment is necessary from top management and this commitment must be explicitly communicated downward to all employees.
A common approach to defining a safety policy or procedure is to follow a safety policy template or example. Using a sample safety policy statement will save you considerable time and may help you identify areas you may not have considered otherwise.
Policies and procedures have an important purpose in any organization. Policies and procedures are similar to the "rules of the game." Without policies and procedures, employees would not understand their obligations according to roles. Policies and procedures outline guidance to employees as to their obligations under normal and abnormal situations.
Policies and procedures communicate to employees and external stakeholders what is expected of the organization should certain scenarios occur. Good policies and procedures ensure structured, and consistent actions are taken during these scenarios.
When a particular policy exists, airlines and airports can then (hopefully) demonstrate to auditors, investigators, civil aviation authorities, or the media that employees are trained to follow this policy. Whenever isolated accidents or incidents occur, these auditors and investigators are much more likely to not view these occurrences as organizational failures, but as individual incidents. When a policy or procedure does not meet a particular scenario's circumstances, the policy or procedure can be modified.
Policies and procedures are usually prepared by subject-matter experts within the organization. They must be reviewed by upper management and signed off (accepted) by the accountable executive.
Policies and procedures are not created in a vacuum. An event triggers the creation of a policy or procedure, such as regulatory requirements or the undesirable behavior of an employee in a certain incident. When the necessity for a policy is realized, the person responsible for drafting the policy or procedure is advised to research how other organizations deal with the situation for which the policy or procedure addresses.
Sample safety policy statements or examples of safety policies from the Web can be a great help. The word of caution is that you must ensure the policy you accept is communicated throughout the organization, so everyone is on the same page. When the accepted policy or procedure is introduced, employees must be trained or be made aware of the policy or procedure introduction. This practice also applies to modifications to existing policies and procedures.
Policies and procedures are typically the reactive result of an incident or accident that has either occurred at the organization or has happened before in the industry. Civil aviation authorities commonly have a list of required policies and procedures that must be accepted by upper management and the civil aviation authority in order to effect an operating certificate.
When management has determined that a new organizational threat has manifested itself, a policy is commonly the first reaction. The policy or procedure is the template employees use to understand desirable behavior should the threat manifest itself.
FAA Safety Management Systems
Australia Civil Aviation Authority Safety Management Systems
Skybrary Safety Management System
NBAA Safety Management Systems (SMS)
The FAA advisory circular (AC 120-92a) provides great information on preparing policies, regardless of which country you live in. Review the section on Safety Policy. An excerpt follows:
ELEMENT 1.1 SAFETY POLICY
a. Performance Objective.
Top management will define the organization’s safety policy and convey its expectations, objectives, commitments, and accountabilities to its employees.
b. Design Expectations.
- (1) Top management will define and sign the organization’s safety policy
- (2) The safety policy will
- (a) Include a commitment to implement and maintain the SMS
- (b) Include a commitment to continuously improve in the level of safety
- (c) Include a commitment to the management of safety risk
- (d) Include a commitment to comply with applicable regulatory requirements;
- (e) Include a commitment to encourage employees to report safety issues without reprisal (as per Process 3.1.6)
- (f) Establish clear standards for acceptable operational behavior for all employees
- (g) Provide management guidance for setting safety objectives
- (h) Provide management guidance for reviewing safety objectives
- (i) Be documented
- (j) Be communicated with visible management endorsement to all employees and responsible parties
- (k) Be reviewed periodically to ensure it remains relevant and appropriate to the organization
- (l) Identify responsibility and accountability of management and employees with respect to safety performance
Related Safety Policy Articles