Simply showing how you manage your hazards

Question:

How can your safety management system (SMS) show that it finds current and possible safety hazards/issues and then assesses these? Also, how can it show that you are creating and taking actions based on these?

Answer:

One way is by making and keeping an up to date hazards/ issues log.


So where do you start?

First, you need to look at what you do and think “what are my hazards (what can cause harm or damage)/issues?”

So where do you get the hazards (what can cause harm)/issues for the list?

Well, you can try the following:

  • Your near miss and incident reports
  • Your own internal reviews or talks with other employees or people you deal with
  • Audits
  • Your safety meeting discussions
  • Attending others safety meetings
  • Think about hazards/issues with changes with equipment, contractors, operations, performance, innovations, scope, size, rules and staff (note the changes of others around you may also affect your business)
  • Others’ safety analysis
  • Others’ near misses and incidents from the web, news media, investigations from around the world and aviation magazines

For investigation and near miss reports:

Some of these links provide regular updates on incidents that you can use to talk about at your safety meetings. Pick out incidents where the operation is close to yours and ask “could this happen here?”

For the results of others’ safety analysis look at the following:

Now once you’ve created a list that means something to your business how do you create the log from this?

For each hazard/issue create a log to include the following:

  • A way to identify the hazard/issue (name, number, code)
  • The identified hazard/issue stated
  • What could go wrong, (the risk associated with this)?
  • How bad would this be, (the severity scale)?
  • How likely is it, (the likelihood scale)?
  • What is the risk?
  • What is currently done to prevent this (mitigations)?
  • What further things that could be done to prevent this going wrong (further mitigations)?
  • If the further things were done how badly wrong would it then be if it went wrong (the severity scale)?
  • If the further things were done how likely would this then be (the likelihood scale)?
  • If the further things were done what would be the risk?
  • Who is to complete the further things and when by?
  • When was this last reviewed (document control)?

Once this is created it is important to regularly review this and record any actions taken. This could be done as part of the regular safety meeting, after an audit or as a regular bit of work. You may find that you have done some work but it has not changed the risk. This does not mean you should do nothing. Any action to make things better should be done and all these can be recorded and shown in the hazard/issue log. When reviewing some hazards/issues they may go away by the task not being carried out anymore. Some new ones may appear with changes. Remember, keep a record of your old logs, you may find something comes back and you need to recall what you did. They also show all the work you have done.

Once up and running this hazard/issue log may:

  • Assist in planning where money is needed to be spent and where it is not on safety issues
  • Assist where safety work needs and does not need to be done
  • Assist in showing the priority safety work and the order of it
  • Keep employees aware of current issues
  • Show employees the ones you know about  – this may help in encouraging them to speak up on issues they know about that you haven’t captured
  • Inform hazards/ issues for new employees
  • Allow checking of the impact of changes against the log
  • Show how your Safety Management System is working

Some businesses do not restrict their hazard/issues log to safety.  It may also include security and business hazards/issues.

If you do not have a severity and likelihood scale with a risk table and need one there are many: here are some to choose from. Remember you cannot mix a severity from one with likelihood from another or mix the tables. Select one and then stick to it.

So creating and keeping one of these up to date should:

  • Show you that you actively look for hazards/ issues
  • Show you use past incidents to make your log
  • Show you look to see if any changes may cause hazards/ issues
  • Show you consider and control any hazards/ issues

This goes a long way to making an SMS work. The following short video clip provides within it an example on looking at and controlling a hazard.

Here are some example entries from a hazard/issues log from an aerodrome, airline, ATC and aircraft engineering company. You may have any format that works for you but ensure all the points to include are covered.

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