The slow death of Safety Management Systems
- Dan Boedigheimer
Do you still have a suggestion box hanging in the hallway or break room in your office? While suggestion boxes provided an anonymous way to provide feedback to your organization, they were rarely used effectively. All too often, the boxes would go unchecked, sending a clear message that the feedback was not wanted.
A main reason the boxes went unchecked was because when it was opened, most of the suggestions were either pen doodles or crude remarks that had no valid suggestion for improvement. What followed was the slow death of the suggestion box.
One of the critical elements of a Safety Management System (SMS) is a healthy hazard reporting system. There are two main elements to keep your hazard reporting system and SMS program from going down the road of the suggestion box.
The first critical element is to make report completion simple. If completing a report is perceived as too difficult, either because of the time it takes to fill out or the process of submitting the report, your reporting system will suffer.
How much information do you really need in an initial report? I have participated in a reporting system that had dozens of mandatory completion fields that took over 20 minutes to complete. Once the form was reduced down to only the critical required information, it took less than 5 minutes to complete, and the number of reports submitted increased significantly.
The second critical element to keep your hazard reporting system effective is to fight off the perception that nothing changes as a result of the reports. To combat that perception, make sure you have a robust Safety Promotion pillar within your SMS.
Your operations manual is updated on a regular basis – correct? Did you change anything in the last revision based on the hazard reports you have received? It is time to let everyone know that the reason for the changes are the result of the hazard reports you receive to encourage further reporting.
Advanced Aircrew Academy’s operations manual online training module serves as an excellent training tool, and the custom online module can highlight the changes you have made within your organization as a direct result of your SMS program, further supporting the Safety Promotion pillar of your SMS.