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SMS: Essential for Safety, Good for Business 

Why SMS ?

It almost goes without saying that we all want aviation to be safe. 

There are many possible reasons for adopting SMS.  As all organisations are different the benefits that they receive will vary but there are a number of safety benefits that everyone will share: 

  • A proactive method of improving safety rather than the old reactive approach, primarily after an accident
  • Reduced loss of life and injuries through the prevention of accidents and incidents
  • Improved employee satisfaction through involvement in the process
  • More efficient interface with regulatory authorities

Using SMS is simply adopting a businesslike approach to safety, similar to the way that finances are managed.  Unless a company or organisation experiences a loss, or critically assesses both the direct and indirect costs of an occurrence, the full implications are unlikely to be appreciated.  The direct costs are usually easy to quantify, they include damage to the aircraft, compensation for injuries and damage to property and are usually settled through an insurance claim.

The indirect costs are more difficult to assess, these are often not covered or fully reimbursed by the company's insurance and the impact is often delayed. 

This includes items such as:

  • loss of business and reputation
  • legal fees and damage claims
  • medical costs not covered by worker's compensation
  • cost of lost use of equipment (loss of income)
  • time lost by injured person(s) and cost of replacement workers
  • increased insurance premiums
  • aircraft recovery and clean-up
  • fines

Use of an SMS has clear business benefits:

  • stability, safety and customer support - customers are aware some operations are safer than others
  • possible reduction in insurance premiums through demonstration of control of safety risks
  • good work/life balance practices, for example adjustment of rosters to avoid most tiring shift/sector will give safety benefits, and can also improve staff/crew morale - potentially lowering staff turnover and reducing training costs
  • a proactive approach to safety can be demonstrated with documented evidence in the event of an incident or accident

The cost of implementing and maintaining SMS becomes less significant and well worth the investment when contrasted with the cost of doing nothing. 

It makes sound business - as well as safety - sense.

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