What Is Safety Assurance Process in Aviation SMS
Safety Assurance in aviation SMS is a process that helps you ensure that your SMS is functioning as designed. Safety Assurance is most closely associated with Phase 4 of SMS implementation. Implementing Phase 4 largely involves implementing the mans to:
- Monitor safety performance;
- Assess safety performance; and
- Practice continuous improvement.
When practicing Safety Assurance in aviation safety management, there will be activities you conduct on a daily basis, mainly managing safety issues. Beyond this, there will activities you want to perform on a:
- Weekly basis;
- Monthly basis;
- Semiannual basis; and
- Yearly basis.
Each time period calls for different types of Safety Assurance actions to take place in order to 100% verify that your SMS is functioning as designed. Here are 40 questions you should be asking about your Safety Assurance practices.
Weekly Safety Assurance Questions
Weekly Safety Assurance activities are those that you can spend 1-2 hours reviewing and auditing your SMS for mission-critical Safety Assurance practices. Such questions address parts of your SMS that may cause audit findings and are otherwise easily preventable so long as you are on top of managing them. These activities are also used to hone in on specific practices within departments to ensure that SA is happening as planned.
We suggest delegating some of these questions out to subject-matter experts and performing them at a set time every week.
- Are any safety issues currently past their due date?
- Are any corrective actions overdue?
- Have actions taken on safety issues in the past week have been justified and communicated to relevant employees?
- Were any new hazards identified in the past week? If so, your operational risk profile needs to be updated.
- Were any new safety risk controls implemented in the past week? If so, your operational risk profile needs to be updated.
- Are any KPIs/SPIs about to become non-performant?
- Have any noticeable trends developed within the last month of operations?
- Are all departmental procedures remain up to date with current operations?
- Do any employees have overdue training?
- Do any employees have expired qualification certifications?
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Monthly Safety Assurance Questions
Monthly Safety Assurance activities are activities that address higher level Safety Assurance elements of your SMS. These questions are to help you ensure that your Safety Assurance practices maintain active across your entire organization.
- Have all reported issues been completely processed, or are in process, through the issue management process? (i.e., there should be no unaddressed issues)
- Have any responsible managers been consistently late on assigned tasks in path month?
- Are all KPI metrics up to date, with evidence and documentation to prove it?
- Have you performed trend analysis for last month to identify trends?
- Were all important lessons learned communicated last month to employees?
- Were all required/routine safety inspections been carried out, with evidence to prove it?
- Were all inspection findings from the past month processed (or are in process) through the issue management process?
- Have employees been actively been using the hazard reporting system to report issues in the past month?
- Do all documented processes closely match actual operations?
- Have all current change management operations have been reviewed to ensure actions are being taken?
Monthly reviews are best done at consistent times every month, such as at end/beginning of month, and can easily be facilitated by a committee or safety team.
Semiannual Safety Assurance Questions
Semiannual Safety Assurance questions will help you ensure that mission-critical SA activities are taking place in your company. They should be performed every 6 months with the involvement of your accountable executive.
- Have all KPIs/SPIs been reviewed to ensure that they are relevant and up to date?
- Are all mission-critical systems being used (i.e., hazard reporting system, issue management system, etc.)?
- Are all KPIs/SPIs actually being monitored?
- Has an internal or external audit of the SMS been performed in the past 6 months?
- Have all findings/concerns from last audit been corrected?
- Have all findings from routine inspections in the past 6 months been corrected?
- Is there documentable evidence to show consistent safety promotional activities in the past 6 months?
- Is the operational risk profile actively being updated by responsible managers?
- Is documentation for all change management operations up to date for each change management operation?
- Have all major changes been communicated to the company?
Annual Safety Assurance Questions
Annual Safety Assurance questions help you ensure that your SMS remains “on track” with your original vision of your SMS. These activities should be completed on a yearly basis and will generally involve the whole company in one way or another.
- Have all high-level, long-term company goals been reviewed and approved?
- Have specific company objectives been reviewed and revised to reflect immediate targets?
- Has a gap analysis been performed within the last year?
- Has the implementation plan been reviewed and is up-to-date?
- Has the company Safety Policy been reviewed by all employees within the last year?
- Has the safety budget been reviewed for appropriateness and updated as needed?
- Has safety performance been reviewed for the past year, with an implementation plan to correct general performance deficits?
- Has a comprehensive review of all critical system processes been reviewed for potential improvements?
- Have all departments been reviewed for silos?
- Has a high-level safety meeting been held and/or newsletter been created to communicate the most important safety information from the past year?
Published November 2018. Last updated November 2021.