SMS – Safety Management Sys


Safety Management System (SMS)

Safety – refer to link

Management – allocation of resources

System – organised set of processes and procedures


4 components ; 15 elements 

  1. Safety policy, objectives and planning
    • Management commitment and responsibility
    • Safety Accountability of manager
    • Appointment of key safety personnel + safety committee and action group
    • SMS implementation plan
    • 3rd parties and contractor activities
    • Documentation
    • Coordination of Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
  2. Safety Risk Management
    • Hazard identification
    • Risk Assessment and Mitigation
  3. Safety Assurance
    • Safety performance monitoring and measurement
    • Internal investigation
    • Management of change
    • Continues improvement
  4. Safety promotion
    • Safety communication
    • Training and education

NOTES: these 4 components and 15 elements are the minimum contents to be documented in SMS manual

Policy : how we do the business around here

Objective : what we do to achieve the intented (safety) outcome – objectives should be practical, achievable, regularly reviewed and reassessed

Management committee should demonstrate the commitment to, and responsible for, the formal safety policy, which then flow into objectives :

  • top management buy-in : commitment plus establish expectations
  • building up positive safety culture,
  • engaging competent personnel,
  • ensure sufficient resources provided,
  • Get staff involved by defining disciplinary policy with adequate punitive action (in case illegal activities, negligence and wilful misconduct)
  • Show evidence of implementation
  • commitment of on-going improvement : “gap analysis”
  • endorse the SMS implementation plan

Safety accountability of managers is that all supervisors and managers should :

  • show their leadership
  • be a good model
  • Ensure their subordinate comply with SMS and safety procedures
  • Ensure themselves as well as their subordinates understanding personal roles and responsibilities

NOTES: that is why SMS manual should clearly outline the roles, responsibility and accountability of different positions in the organisation

Appointments of key personnel is referring to designate safety managers, who should have both operational experience and technical knowledge plus understand safety management principles, typically acquired through formal training and practical experience

Ideally, safety manager should be appproable, convincing, reliable, able to stay cool under pressure and tenacious (in safety)

Safety committee should consist of safety manager as well as operational and functional supervisors and managers. The committee should report directly to the senior management (ideally CEO)

SMS implementation plan – may consist of more than one document, which describe what is and how to achieve the objectives and when it will be revised – in phase process with timelines.

3rd parties and contractor activities – should be regulated and monitored :

  • contracts or so called service level agreement (SLA) specify the standard to be met
  • ensure 3rd parties and contractor understand the standard
  • ensure they comply with the standard – by continuous monitoring and measurements plus reviewing previous records
  • provide training and education to them

Documentation is one of formal ways to communicate with all employees (entire organisation) and 3rd parties and contractor about safety approaches.

There is an internal approved amendment process. Admendment and distribution is controlled, which means approved person are responsible to distribute the latest documents to where they will need to, in addition, the designated personnel should remove/replace all old/obsolete versions. All documents should be periodically reviewed based on timetable.

Coordination of Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is activated in the event of major occurrence. ERP covers :

  1. orderly and efficiently transition from normal to emergency operations,
  2. delegation of emergency authority and
  3. Responsibility of the members in response team
  4. Actions in the response plan – to minimise and manage the risk of the case
  5. Coordinate returning to normal operations in safe and efficient ways

Safety risk management : identification, analysis and elimination (and/or mitigation to an acceptant level) of the hazard, as well as the subsequent risks, according to ICAO definition.

Step 1: Identify the hazards

Methods used to identify hazards:

  • brainstorming
  • Conceptual model – SHELL model
  • Survey and Questionnaire
  • Hazard report system
  • Observering Operation

Step 2 : decide what might be harmed and how the harm might be caused

  • Likelihood/Probability – single event occurring? or based on exposure and repetition
  • Severity/Consequence

the above two elements form the risk assessment matrix

Step 3 : evaluate the risks

  • “Can we eliminate the hazards ?”
  • if not, “Is there any alternative options – transfer risk ?”
  • if not, “how to control and mitigate the risk ?”

For more, refer to ALARP, in later part.

Step 4 : record the findings and implement them

  • Risk control plan should be divided into short- and long- term (add middle- term in between would be event better)

Step 5 : monitor the effectiveness of implementation

Step 6 : reviewed and revised (update) periodically


ALARP – as low as reasonably practicable – identify risks into 3 categories :

  • Unacceptable – must be eliminated or controlled, regardless of the benefits
  • Tolerable – prepared to tolerate to secure the benefits, but must be reviewed periodically
  • Broadly acceptable – risks is treated as low or trivial in daily lives

To determine whether a risk is “Tolerable” in ALARP, number of criteria need to be considered:

  • Legal requirements
  • Expert (include stakeholders) judgement
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Industry good practice


Safety performance monitoring and measurement is needed so as to evaluate whether expectations and standards are met :

  • For ethic :  Staff could have confidence that the organisation provides safe environment
  • For customers expectation : Users (passenger) concern their safety
  • For continuous improvement : Line management need feeedback on safety in order to allocate resources
  • For the reputation : Senior management strive to protect the image of the organisation
  • For market/business : Shareholders seek to protect their investment

In short, it is about the philosophy of SMS- 為人,為法, 為$$, 為聲譽 !

Safety performance could be monitored by :

  • Line supervisors monitor and report on a daily basis
  • Doing regular or daily inspection on safety critical areas
  • Safety survey to collect information
  • Establish effective hazard reporting system
  • Systematic analysis with following up actions
  • Regular audit (both internal and external)
  • Regularly communicate safety issues to all in the organization


Internal safety investigation is to find systematic causes (root cause) – ask “why” in lieu of ask “what” and implement corrective actions, investigation is NOT to blame individual.

Of course, to make the investigation effective, the investigator should be trained, competent. Also, the feedback from the report should be disseminated throughout the whole origanization


Management of change is needed and there are 6 steps :

  1. Communicate and consult
    • a preliminary assessment
  2. development the case
    • Provide compelling argument for making the change and clear statements of the benefits
  3. Conduct risk assessment and planning
    • e.g SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats)
  4. Prepare the project (the change)
  5. Implement the change
  6. Ongoing monitoring and review


Continuous improvement is important concept in positive safety culture as well as SMS. By regularly reviewing the SMS, we could know what we have been doing, and help to improve on area is not as effective.


Safety training and education should offer to all staff, both permenent positions and part-time workers. Also, the workers from 3rd parties and contractor should be trained as well. To effectively train and educate staff, “training need analysis (TNA)” could be conducted to identify who needs to be trained, what training do we need. Also, the training officer and agency should be certified. Normally, induction course and refreshing session are two most common types of training. After training, evaluation (by test, questionnaire and/or interview) should be included and the documentation is also important to support in performance monitoring. Last but not least, feedback should be collected from the attendees.

Safety communications should be in two-ways. Staff should be informed about the safety policies and objectives while timely response and improvements should be shown after collecting their feedback in order to make the SMS being successful framework in terms of safety culture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *