What are Main Challenges with Aviation SMS Participation
Many often complain about how difficult it is to get full participation for their aviation safety management system. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Members of your organization will need much less coaxing to participate in your aviation safety program by making your program:
- interactive, and
Here are ways to improve participation in aviation SMS.
How to Include People in Your Aviation SMS
The main stumbling block of many aviation safety programs is a lack-of inclusion of those at the operational level whose participation is most critical. Even though the program may be embraced by management, it often fails to be embraced by those that work on the aircraft.
This is due to a combination of factors stemming from:
- lack of time,
- skepticism about the program. and
- pressure to get work done.
In the aviation maintenance field, the mechanics working on the aircraft are the most likely to observe unsafe maintenance practices or conditions that can be remedied by an aviation safety program.
Per the ICAO Safety Management Manual, “A workplace in which personnel have been trained and are constantly encouraged to report their errors and experiences is a prerequisite for effective safety reporting”. Notice the emphasis on constantly in that statement.
Employees on the operational level will be willing to participate in a safety program only by being encouraged:
- passively (department safety metrics, no-fault reporting methods), and
- actively (training, awards, feedback, compensation).
Encouragement doesn’t have to only flow from the top down; it can also happen laterally or from the bottom up in the form of team-based recognition, continuous improvement (CI) boards and open-door policies.
How to Make Your Safety Risk Management Program Interactive
Another barrier to obtaining full participation in an aviation safety program is the lack of interactive participation in training programs. Far too often, aviation safety management systems rely on training employees by making them spend several mind-numbing hours in front of a computer viewing slides or videos.
The interaction with the content is often:
- one-way, and
- does not have the participant actively practice the skills that they were supposed to have learned.
By delivering content in a way that reinforces learning pathways in the brain by having the student take the lead in learning, permanent safety habits will be created. This can be done by:
- practicing mock safety scenarios,
- doing case studies, and
- adopting a continuous learning program that emphasizes OJT (On the Job Training).
Having an interactive safety management system is a great way to encourage participation.
How to Make an Effective Aviation SMS
Lastly, making sure that your aviation risk management program is effective will be important to make sure that it will succeed. If a safety program is ineffective it will create more damage and mistrust than whatever existed prior.
According to the ICAO Safety Management Manual, “There are five basic characteristics that are universally associated with effective safety reporting systems: Information, Flexibility, Willingness, Accountability, and Learning”.
Making sure that your safety program incorporates all of these elements and that it is designed appropriately for the context (i.e. an airline vs. a small flight school) it is operating in is critical to ensuring effectively.
Final Thought: Why Participation Doesn’t Have to be Difficult
Getting participation in your aviation safety program doesn’t have to be difficult. Participation is made much easier by three simple methods – make your SMS:
- interactive, and
For more resources to improve participation in your SMS, learn what the quality of your safety culture is: