What is a New SMS Program
A new SMS program means adopting a new safety program in your organization. This new safety program can be an entirely new risk management program where one did not exist before. This new safety program can replace an old SMS, such as in the case of switching SMS programs.
Both scenarios involve significant (if not total) overhaul to the existing way of doing things in an organization. The basic evolution of adopting a new aviation SMS program, whether it’s replacing an existing program or is entirely new, is:
- Learning how the system works;
- Learning what the boundaries, expectations, and limitations are;
- Feeling comfortable performing tasks within the system; and
- Using the system to reach safety potential.
In this scenario, training employees on the new SMS program focuses on the first step in the evolution. Steps 2-4 will happen naturally over time (usually within the first year of adopting the new program). See 10 tasks for getting new SMS program started.
What Types of Training Are There for New SMS Program
There are two types of training in SMS programs, and you will probably already be familiar with both types:
- Initial SMS training; and
- Recurrent training.
Initial SMS training is a training that employees receive when before they start using the SMS program. By using the SMS program, we are talking about:
- Reviewing safety policies, procedures, duties, responsibilities, and other documentation;
- Reporting safety concerns;
- Managing safety issues;
- And so on.
See the following resources for more information about initial SMS training:
In terms of training employees on new safety program, the focus is entirely on initial SMS training. This means that to train employees on new SMS programs, training is something that you do directly before (or right as they start) using the SMS program.
What Should Employees Be Trained on With New Aviation Safety Program
Initial SMS training for new aviation risk management programs should be broken into two parts:
- Training for management; and
- Training on aspects of program that are universal.
Training for management:
- Process for managing safety issues, including corrective actions;
- How to monitor safety performance;
- How to update safety documentation; and
- How to view safety performance reports.
Training for all employees:
- How to reports safety issues;
- How to complete corrective actions;
- Review of duties/responsibilities, safety policies/procedures, and other documentation; and
- How to monitor progress of safety reported safety issues.
These training topics should get all employees trained to the point where they have a high level understanding of how the new safety program will affect their operations, and how to perform the most essential safety tasks with the new system.
How Long Does It Take to Train Employees on New SMS Program
Talking about time frames in general is always a guesstimate. On average, it takes about two weeks to train employees on new SMS programs. Remember, when we are talking about training employees on the new program we are talking about initial SMS training.
The purpose of training on new programs is to get employees comfortable enough with the new program to start using it. Once they start using the new safety program, they become more comfortable with it.
Initial training can go faster than 2 weeks if you have things like:
- Automated initial SMS training;
- Aviation SMS software to facilitate the training; and
- Mature safety culture.
Smaller organizations will tend to finish such training faster, whereas larger organization may take longer. But 2 weeks is about the average time we have seen in the aviation industry.
Final Thought: Tips for Training Employees on New Safety Program
Here are some important points to keep in mind for initial SMS training when adopting a new safety program:
- This training is your best opportunity to promote the new program;
- Include a brief quiz to ensure that employees actually followed through with training requirements, and have a basic understanding of the new program;
- Allow employees to give feedback at the end of training to express any concerns they might have with the new safety program;
- Don’t try and train too much – you will just overwhelm employees;
- If possible, allow employees to “practice” using the new program, such as by allowing each employee to submit a practice hazard report, etc.
For more information about how to train employees on new SMS programs, you will find the following video extremely helpful: