Why Does SMS Seem So Complicated?

 - May 28, 2012, 4:30 PM

Because safety is a never-ending quest, a safety management system (SMS) often calls for a cultural change. And changes take time. But just hearing the SMS acronym is enough to make many industry folks roll their eyes and sigh, thinking surely safety management systems must be working by now.

Renee Dupont-Adam isn’t so sure. She’s president of System Safety Services, a Canadian provider of complete SMS programs. “We try to simplify a SMS by looking at the little things, like documenting what a flight department is already doing,” she said.

Dupont-Adam recently penned a list of a dozen simple reasons why even the best-organized safety management system can fail:

  • The organization’s executives don’t take SMS seriously. 
  • The regulatory body is not completely sure what to do.
  • Senior executives fail to motivate middle management.
  • The organization simply copies someone else’s manuals. 
  • Human factors and SMS training are never factored into the process.
  • A SMS is put into place, but no one participates. 
  • There is no administrative policy in place anywhere.
  • The system becomes swamped with hazard reports. 
  • The organization provides little or no feedback to employees.
  • The organization has a high risk tolerance.
  • The organization has no idea how to set realistic goals. 
  • The organization has no idea how it will actually know if the program is successful.