A Safety Management System Commerce Essay

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It is important to understand the meaning of each term, which are Safety Culture and Safety Management System (SMS) before proceed to any further discussion.

Safety Culture is one of the important factors that contribute to the overall safety awareness in an aviation industry.

This term was first come up after the Chernobyl nuclear power accident in Ukraine. It was mentioned by the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG) in their summary report regarding this accident (INSAG, 2002). The report explained how the organisational behaviour and operator violations that have lead to this disastrous phenomenon.

Since then, there are several 'high profile' accidents with regards to aviation industry that directly related to the poor safety culture. For examples:

The disasters of the Space Shuttles Challenger (1986).

The Überlingen Mid-Air Collision (2002).

The disasters of the Space Shuttles Columbia (2003).

There are many definitions that could describe the safety culture. However, according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Human Factor Digest 10, safety culture is:

'A set of beliefs, norms, attitudes, roles and social and technical practices with minimising exposure of employees, managers, customers, and members of the general public to conditions considered dangerous or hazardous.'

Safety culture can simply be described as 'the way safety is done around here - emphasising that it is concerned with the realities of safety, and not necessarily what people say should be done'(Eurocontrol, 2007).

From the statements above, safety culture might have been achieved when all people in that aviation organisation are fully concern, aware and reflect the importance of safety. Additionally, in my personal perspective, the words 'reflect' must be nurtured until it is naturally born from one's heart and not by force from others. It also could be best described as the 'safety heedfulness' of the person itself.


Safety Management System is yet another important factor that contributes to the overall safety awareness in an aviation industry. It is actually a professional approach to safety. It has a systematic, precise, and completely covers all the process for managing safety risks.

When talked about 'management', in this case, Safety Management System is just like any other managerial approach with the same layout such as goal setting, planning, and also measuring performance. Having all of these features, it is more focused into safety system, policies, and the outlined method in dealing with safety risk. By providing information with regards to safety, perhaps the aviation organisation could implement and reflect this system thus, make it competence and capable in their operation while upholding the highest level of operational safety.

Safety Management System usually can be found throughout overall aviation organisation. All employees regardless of their position have no privileged in avoiding safety. Safety management activity is not limited to just one specific task in the organisation. In each and every task they did, all of the employees must contribute and practice their 'way of doing the job' in accordance with safety management system. For larger airlines organisation, safety management activity will be obviously noticeable in 'engineering floor' (engineering department) compared with other departments such as financial department or human resource department. In order to ensure the consistency of this system, there must be well designed procedures regarding the safety policy. The system can be established by the implementation and continuous support from the upper management level.

However, from another perspective, Safety Management System is not a standalone system. It cannot be successfully achieved by itself. For example, each time when there is a new idea is being introduced to the employees, they will of course tend to resist that. It is normal as all human being does not like to change. That is why having only a good idea does not guarantee the success of Safety Management System. On the other hand, even a well- planned system or ideas have failed in practice because some of the critical elements such as commitment, cognizance, or competence were missing (Transport Canada, 2010).

Commitment: In the face of operational and commercial pressures do company leaders have the will to make safety management tools work effectively?

Cognizance: Do the leaders understand the nature of managing for safety?

Competence: Are safety management policy and procedures appropriate, understood, and properly applied at all levels in the organization?

Those three elements above will determine whether Safety management System achieves its goal or not and at the same time it leads to the establishment of Safety Culture inside the organisation.


In this case, I agree that Safety Management System is not possible without a Safety Culture. Below is the explanation why safety culture is still important even though an excellent Safety Management System already being in place.

There might not be sufficient enough to ensure an adequate safety operation of the airlines organisations even though appropriate and intensive Safety Management System is being applied in maintaining and improving the overall airlines operation. Every employee inside the aviation organisations need to realise the existence of Safety Management System, know why it is existed, understand its purpose, and always be encourage to follow the system that is being develop. It is worth to know that Safety Management System does not promise safety if it is not being followed accordingly.

A positive Safety Culture is the key to ensure the continuous progress of Safety Management System. It's the same when it goes the other way round which from the implementation of a good Safety Management System, positive Safety Culture could be achieved. Performance and consistency of safety system in the organisation are usually managed by the organisational practices. A well-developed Safety Management System can therefore serve as an accelerator of Safety Culture (Reason 1993, 1997). This is another point that shows the correlation between Safety Management System and Safety Culture. It is because; Safety Culture is reflecting the commitment to achieve safety while Safety Management System indicates the ability to achieve safety (see figure 5).

Safety Management System and Safety Culture work better when they are 'paired' together. The effectiveness of pairing Safety Culture and Safety Management System could assist to figure out any inadequacy of the Safety Culture in practice thus, give the organisation a feedback so that an improvement must be made regarding the policy of the Safety Management System. When talking about 'paired' together, there must also have a gap between Safety Culture and Safety Management System in order to maintain continuous feedback. It might be worst when the employees are not bothered to report any incident if there is a technical problem regarding the error reporting system.

Meantime, any Safety Cultural issues that might come up could be revealed by conducting a survey among the employees such as negative safety attitudes, communication problem between different departments or even across each layers of the organisation. This might happen when the employees thought that Safety Management System is just only 'for show' or 'protect' management (Safety Culture in Air Traffic Management, 2008).

All in all, a well-planned Safety Management System can be implemented or can be altered for any improvement straight away, whereas Safety Culture takes time to establish and become matured. Even during the initial start-up of these two things, Safety Management System can just be express by writing down in plain words, being documented and published as the organisational safety policy and procedure but in contrast, it is difficult to express and identify the meaning of Safety Culture in term of their features. Those features such as group attitudes, perception, and beliefs are actually the influencing factor of safety management activities (Kennedy and Kirwan, 1995). The International Civil Aviation Organisation Safety Management Manual also states that:

"Before an organization can implement an effective Safety Management System, it needs to possess an appropriate safety culture."

Without any doubt, Safety Culture is more difficult to be explained and implemented compared to Safety Management System, but both of them rely solely on each other and they have the same common thought of maintaining and improving safety.

Part (2) Will reprimanding an engineer prevent him or her from making mistakes in the future? Discuss. (1750 words minimum)