What Is Safety Policy in Aviation SMS
Your Safety Policy is the canon of your aviation safety program. It outlines all of the essential information anyone in your company would want to know regarding safety. It is one of the first components of your SMS that you will develop. It will be the document that you:
- Reference in response to employee questions;
- Demonstrate to auditors; and
- Use to outline essential facets of your SMS.
When developing your Safety Policy, there are a number of questions you need to ask about it to ensure that the policy is complete. Here are 20 questions you should ask about your Safety Policy in aviation SMS.
Safety Policy Commitments to Safety
Commitments to safety are one way that your company tells employees how safety will be facilitated. These commitments are an integral part of your safety culture. While these commitments are TO safety, they are actually FOR staff and front line employees to see that you are dedicated to making their operational environment safer.
Here are some questions you need to ask about your Safety Policy regarding commitments.
- Does your Safety Policy contain an accountable executive commitment to safety?
- Does your Safety Policy contain a company commitment to safety?
- Does your Safety Policy list long term safety goals?
- Does your Safety Policy define its commitment to reducing risks to acceptability, including a definition of what “acceptable” means?
- Does your Safety Policy include clear statements about the provision of resources necessary for facilitating safety?
- Does your Safety Policy include a commitment to not-punitive reporting?
Guidance for Safety Behavior
Providing guidance is extremely important for employees, and it will probably be the part of the Safety Policy that employees reference the most. Here are essential questions for your Safety Policy regarding behavior:
- Do you indicate what behaviors are unacceptable and may result in punitive action?
- Do you indicate conditions where immunity is not granted?
- Are all roles and each role’s responsibilities, including a safety org chart, listed in your Safety Policy?
- Is there a list of mandatory and voluntary issues to report in your Safety Policy?
Endorsement of Safety Policy
Endorsing your Safety Policy is an often overlooked but essential part of creating your policy. A Safety Policy that is written and never used is nearly worthless. Endorsing your policy means referencing it and reviewing it on a regular basis to show your support for the policy.
- Has your accountable executive signed the safety policy?
- Is your Safety Policy required to be reviewed at least once per year?
- Is your Safety Policy regularly deferred to in matters of behavior or expected responsibility?
- Do all employees have easy access to the Safety Policy, both in terms of actually being able to access it and easily finding necessary information (i.e., well organized)?
- Does safety management regularly review the Safety Policy for currency and completeness?
Safety Policy SMS Resources
You Safety Policy is a great place to include all relevant Safety Resources. This will help your policy become an invaluable tool for referencing in response to employee questions. In this manner, you will have constant opportunities to ensure that the policy is endorsed and actually being used.
- Do you have a complete Emergency Response Plan in your Safety Policy?
- Have you provided lists of materials in your ERP that will aid in responding to specific emergencies?
- Are critical system processes, such as hazard reporting process, outlined in your Safety Policy?
- Does your Safety Policy list all useful resources, such as policies and procedures, checklists, guidance materials, and other resources that help facilitate safety?
- Does your Safety Policy list contact information of key safety personnel, such as the safety manager?
Resource: Emergency Response Plan Checklist
Published November 2018. Last updated November 2020.