What Is Aviation SMS Safety Policy
An Aviation Safety Policy is a document in safety management systems that outlines the core, important safety information that underlies your SMS.
It is the canon for your SMS.
This document should define your organization’s;
- Safety values;
- Safety commitments; and
- Important safety resources (policies, procedures, accountabilities).
The ICAO’s document 9859 says that Safety Policy is used to, “Describe the organization’s intentions, management principles and commitment to improving aviation safety in terms of the…service provider.”
Your Safety Policy is part of Phase 2 of SMS Implementation. Completing Phase 2 involves completing your Safety Policy. Here are the main ways to know if your aviation Safety Policy is complete.
Key Commitments to Safety
Your Safety Policy should contain all of your company’s commitments to safety. You can have as many commitments as you think necessary for communicating the fact that your organization is dedicated to the safety program.
Some of the commitments you should definitely have are:
- CEO commitment to safety
- Organizational commitment to safety
- Commitment to non-punitive reporting
- Voluntary and mandatory reporting
It would be valuable to develop some commitments that are specific to your organization, so that it’s obvious you aren’t simply using generic, boilerplate commitments, and that your commitment is real.
High-Level Company Goals and Specific Objectives
Your Safety Policy should outline two types of safety targets:
- Long term, high level company safety goals; and
- Current (short term), specific safety objectives/targets.
Long-term goals should reflect your commitments to safety to some effect. Long terms goals will not change often.
Based on these long-term goals, your Safety Policy should document the short-term objectives that help you reach your long-term goals in the “current time period.” The “current time period” is usually the current year, as many organizations set safety targets on a yearly basis.
Safety Org Chart
A safety org chart is definitely an important part of your Safety Policy. It outlines:
- Key roles in your SMS;
- Safety communication channels in the SMS; and
- Hierarchy of safety decision-making.
A safety org chart can be a single-page document or picture that maps the various roles in your SMS. It should resemble a pyramid and be separate from your company's operational org chart.
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List of Key Personnel
Either on our org chart or in a separate document, you should list the key personnel in your SMS, including:
- Key roles that will manage and maintain your SMS, such as:
- Accountable executive
- Safety manager
- Safety committees
- Names of persons in each key role; and
- Contact information of each role (optional, but good practice).
In smaller organizations, it may make sense to put this on your org chart. In larger organizations, it’s simply not feasible to do this, and you will need to document this information in a separate section of your Safety Policy.
List of Roles and Responsibilities (Accountabilities)
Your Safety Policy should include all roles in your SMS, from maintenance workers to department heads. These roles should:
- Be immediately identifiable by all employees;
- Allow employees to understand which role(s) they fit in to;
- List safety responsibilities for each role (i.e., how each role will facilitate the SMS); and
- List safety duties for each role (i.e., safety tasks each role will partake in).
This is an extremely important part of your Safety Policy, as it will be the guidelines for how each employee understands the way he/she will be involved in the SMS.
Policies and Procedures
Your Safety Policy should also include all of your SMS safety policies and procedures, such as:
- Guidelines for punitive action;
- Process for reporting issues;
- Code of safety conduct;
- Various job processes;
- Critical procedures;
- And so on.
Any procedure or policy related to safety should be included in this section of your Safety Policy.
Emergency Response Plan
An emergency response plan is the last item you need to include in your Safety Policy. To create an ERP, the basic steps are:
- Assess risks identified in your organization;
- Create a list of high-risk concerns (i.e., emergencies) and organize them by type;
- Document chain of command in each emergency;
- Document contact info for everyone in the chain of command for each emergency;
- Document responsibilities for relevant company roles in each emergency;
- Document steps (process) to respond to an emergency;
- List all relevant resources (maps, gear, equipment) helpful for responding to each emergency; and
- Document steps and resources to recover from an emergency.
You should also periodically test your ERP with emergency drills, and revise your ERP accordingly.
Final Thought: Other Items to Include
There may be other items you may want to include in your Safety Policy that would help lay the foundation of your SMS. These may be documents and other documentable items that are specific to your organization, and relevant to safety.
Last updated April 2023.