What Are Safety Reports in SMS Programs?
Safety reports in SMS programs are your primary weapon for communicating safety information to stakeholders. Safety information will be catered to stakeholders.
Stakeholders are simply anyone who you need to communicate safety information to, such as:
- Upper management;
- Internal safety team;
- Regulatory agencies; or
- Public and customers.
Safety reports will include numerous presentations of data and information, such as:
- Pie charts;
- Line graphs;
- Bulleted lists;
- Anecdotal examples of the SMS; and
- Other SMS information, such as goals, objectives, etc.
Usually, safety reports in aviation SMS programs will revolve around safety performance. The key takeaway with creating safety reports in SMS programs is: VISUAL is effective and pretty.
What Are Safety Reports Used For?
Depending on the audience the report is designed for, the report is a “brutally honest” look at safety performance, or it may take a more positive spin. You don’t want, for example, to create a brutally honest safety report for customers.
That said, we can summarize that safety reports are used to:
- Communicate relevant safety information to relevant people;
- Do an informal audit of safety performance;
- Organize the most “important” safety data, information, and experiences; and
- Promote the safety program, where applicable.
The last point is particularly important. Unless you are creating a report of the “brutally honest” type, such as for internal safety team use, your reports should:
- Be positive – but realistic – about promoting the safety program’s good performances; and
- Focus on goals for improvement in areas of underperformance.
If you overdo the “SMS promotion” in safety reports, people disregard and mistrust the report, which defeats the purpose of creating it.
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What Should Be Included in Safety Reports
Safety reports should communicate several types of information:
- Hard data, such as through risk analysis charts and graphs;
- Comparative data, such as with bulleted lists of data metrics (i.e., leading indicators);
- Anecdotal evidence, such as with real-life example situations of SMS performance; and
- SMS information, such as information about the SMS roadmap for implementation, future objectives, changes, etc.
- Conclusions, such as bulleted lists of the “big picture” benefits and areas to work on in the SMS program.
These data should be communicated commiserate with the audience whom the report is for. For example:
- Conclusions and anecdotal evidence may be focused on in public reports;
- Hard data and SMS information may be focused on in upper management reports; and
- Comparative data and SMS information may be focused on in reports for compliance agency reports.
Of course, every report will include a little bit of every type of data, but there’s no denying that depending on who the report is for, different types of information will be focused on differently.
How to Create Safety Reports for SMS Programs
The steps to create safety reports are fairly straightforward. Many of these points may be obvious but hopefully, there should be
- Establish the goals of the safety report:
- Who’s going to see it?
- What do you want to communicate?
- Based on the goals of the safety report, make a list of information needed to properly communicate goals:
- What kind of safety charts need to be included?
- What kind of language should be used (i.e., technical, jargon, layman terms, etc.)?
- What kind of data should be included/omitted?
- What do you want to highlight about your safety program?
- Gather all information (metrics, charts, data, etc.) from your bullet points in step 2
- Take screenshots of pie charts, line graphs, etc.
- Create data tables
- List important SMS facts that you want to communicate, such as exemplary issues, safety culture survey results, etc.
- If you don’t have a template for your report(s), you should create one:
- It’s important to have a template(s) to ensure consistency in your reports.
- You can have different templates for different types of reports (i.e., stakeholder safety report, management safety report, etc.).
- Organize your report with your gathered information
Creating templates is extremely important. It requires a bit of front-end work, but in the end, it will save you a significant amount of time and ensure that all your reports are to quality standards.
Final Thought: Tools for Creating Reports
The best tools for creating reports is something like an integrated aviation SMS software. This will provide you with the most resources directly at your fingertips to create reports with.
Beyond this, Excel provides a relatively efficient way to present information in tables, generate graphs and charts, etc. though it will require a bit of legwork.
If you are working with a manual SMS program and do not have experience with Excel, sticking to bulleted lists of data, and anecdotal evidence will be your best bet. Your reports won’t be as pretty as they would be with charts, but they can still be effective.
To see how integrating SMS software can significantly improve your ability to create reports, among other numerous safety benefits for management efficiency, safety culture, etc., see these demo videos:
Last updated September 2023.