Aviation Safety Policies Require Review, Didn't You Know?
Safety managers are busy people. After all, they are constantly ensuring documentation is appropriately managed for the four pillars of the aviation SMS.
It's easy to let something slip by if there are no mechanisms in place for quality assurance for your aviation safety program.
What does it mean by reviewing the aviation safety policy? How is this done? Do I just slap another date on the bottom? What do auditors look for when reviewing this requirement? These are a few questions we'll seek to answer. Also, we will provide a free checklist for you to either:
- Start your SMS safety policy; or
- Review your safety policy against an exceptional safety policy requirements checklist.
Your Aviation Safety Policy Requires Review!
Unless you can prove it to some people, there will always be those doubters and slackers. They may always live with their heads in the sand and balk at reviewing their safety policies. To them, it is like the Bible. Write it once and it is perfect. No changes required.
In the ICAO gap analysis model, the first section is "Management Commitment & Responsibility." Three-quarters the way down the list is:
"Is the safety policy periodically reviewed to ensure it remains relevant and appropriate to the [organization]?"
But "I'm a Canadian," you may retort. Well, in the Transport Canada gap analysis, in the "Safety Policy (Phase 2)", you will see:
"The safety policy is reviewed periodically for continuing applicability."
For the FAA, you will have to look not at the Preliminary Gap Analysis model, but the advanced gap analysis model for:
"The safety policy is reviewed periodically to ensure it remains relevant and appropriate to the organization."
OK, I think I made my point.
Have you read...
- Writing an Aviation Safety Policy for SMS Programs - 4 Free Templates
- Writing Awesome Aviation Safety Policy Statements
- 4 Pieces of Safety Policy Your SMS Program Should Have
How to Review Aviation Safety Policies
Aviation safety policies are usually a part of your SMS manual. For help writing an SMS manual, here is a good resource. The safety policy can either be reviewed against:
- Other safety policies (templates); or
- Best in class checklists.
I believe an aviation safety policy checklist is more useful as the safety manager doesn't have to wade through paragraphs of often wordy and meaningless text to get to the point.
Aviation safety policy checklists are as simple as going down the list and saying:
- Yes, I got that covered; or
- No, that is a good idea and we'll add it; or
- No, that really doesn't apply to our situation.
Aviation Safety Policies Are Never Perfect the First Time
Most aviation service providers already have their safety policy if they have started an SMS implementation.
Where do you keep your safety policy? Many of you will hunt for it on some dusty shelf. Best practices dictate that the safety policy should be readily available to all stakeholders. Put it on your Website, or online with your aviation risk management software program if you have one.
Since your operating environment is constantly changing, your safety policy should also change. Don't be afraid to update this "sacred" document.
Final Thoughts on Reviewing Aviation Safety Policies
You should not simply stop at your aviation safety policy. The truth is that all your safety policies and procedures require review. For many aviation service providers, this may be a huge task to do in one day. You may consider breaking up the review sessions into two or three meetings.
The better aviation SMS software suites have tools to ensure these policies and procedures do not slip through the cracks. They will send out email notifications whenever a policy or procedure requires review.
Most Important Part of Safety Policy Review
Finally, you must not forget to have the accountable executive review and acknowledge any changes. Include the date the document was reviewed and accepted.