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SMS Implementation 59 The processes developed to support SMS do not have to involve the latest piece of software or a sophisticated methodology used by the research department of a university. A reporting system based on a simple paper form available at every location may do a lot more for you than a software-based tool with access only at selected sites. Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate! Successful SMS implementation requires buy-in from the whole organization. Early on, develop a communication plan to ensure that everybody is aware of the new upcoming changes, the need for employee support, and opportunities to get involved. SMS seeks to provide an integrated system of safety processes within an organization. It involves all levels of personnel and departments, and it can certainly benefit from the sharing of information and expertise between departments. Do not create another silo (isolated group) with SMS! Airports, like other organizations, tend to develop a collection of silos or relatively isolated groups that have different vocations and cultures resulting from previous training, education, and experience. There is always the danger of creating a new silo when bringing SMS on board. If miscommunication is an issue in your airport (e.g., language barriers(26)), a little money spent to improve it and make sure training and safety procedures are well understood by every- one can save you a lot of money in accidents avoided. Labor Unions Labor unions are generally supportive of any organizational change that can bring about an improvement in employee well-being and working conditions. SMS certainly falls into this cat- egory. The organizational and administrative structure of these organizations can provide a forum for the sharing of information and employee commitment. Possible means to engage labor unions in the SMS processes include explaining the SMS, how the system will be imple- mented, and their specific roles to support it (e.g., getting them involved in the development of non-punitive reporting systems; defining safety objectives; etc.). 4.7 Common Challenges Management Commitment You will never hear management say that they want an unsafe airport; however, it sometimes is hard to get the resources required to make your operation as safe as you want it to be. Tradi- tionally, organizations view safety as an expense or nothing more than a regulatory requirement. It may be difficult to convince management that they need to invest in safety, especially if the air-
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60 Safety Management Systems for Airports port already has a good safety record. If management's commitment to safety is to be believed and acted on by the airport organization as a whole, management has to show commitment through real actions--allocation of the necessary resources to implement and maintain an SMS, participation in safety events and activities, and so forth. To address this challenge, you could discuss with management the many benefits of SMS. Communicate that not investing in safety actually can cost more in terms of time, money, reputation, and potentially unrecoverable losses. Behavioral Change SMS will require change, and people are naturally resistant to change. Too often, the importance of this human characteristic is disregarded. If not handled properly, it can lead to misunderstand- ing and frustration. Change takes time. Do not get discouraged. Any initial negative reaction could be mitigated by trying to maximize the integration of existent practices, making staff part of the process by sharing responsibilities with them, and taking a phased-in approach to implementation, leading by example, creating forums for open communication, etc. Maintaining Momentum SMS implementation will require a continuous and consistent effort. There is a need to plan the development phase carefully to ensure that all efforts are designed to obtain the greatest return and that, once they are started, these efforts will not be interrupted by foreseeable events. Cultural Characteristics Different backgrounds define our values and beliefs. This impacts how different groups inter- act with each other. SMS is mainly about cultural change. The steps you take to effect the desired change have to be harmonized with the culture of the organization as a whole while respecting the distinctiveness of every group. When you design SMS processes, make sure you take into consideration cultural differences. For example, certain societies cherish openness and sharing of infor- mation, while others are more reserved. If an organization has a significant num- ber of members that belong to each of these two groups, a reporting system that does not respect and guarantee confidentiality and anonymity might draw much information from the first group but not from the second. This would limit the value of the information collected and the effectiveness of the whole process.
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SMS Implementation 61 Taking Responsibility for Safety Traditionally, a Safety Officer or SMS Manager has been looked at as the only person respon- sible for safety within the organization. If somebody raised a safety concern, he/she was told to address it through the safety office. SMS intends to change that. Safety is a responsibility that is shared by all parties and integrated into the everyday operation. To address this challenge, you should discuss with line management that safety is their responsibility and that the SMS Manager's role is to support them in the fulfillment of this task. This support can be given by offering advice, coordinating safety activities, sharing information, and providing an independent view when it comes to incident and accident investigations. Airport Stakeholders Most aviation organizations employ a number of service providers, contractors, and suppliers on a temporary or permanent basis to support operational and administrative activities. In short, the operating environment is not necessarily isolated, but shared by many other organizations that are not directly under its control. The degree of interaction with these stakeholders varies, but almost inevitably, their activities will interface or overlap during operational practices. Some of these overlaps are obvious (e.g., an air operator with a ground handler). In these cases, their business "link" is direct and apparent. Normally, a contractual obligation provides a mech- anism for discussion and coordination of business activities, including safety. Other relation- ships are not so apparent (e.g., airport operator and air traffic control). There may be direct overlapping of operations without a direct administrative link that allows for coordination. All interactions with airport stakeholders should be part of an organization's SMS. At the very least, the interfaces should be reviewed to ensure that they do not compromise safety. An organ- ization has responsibilities for its activities. So when it contracts out functions, it must assure itself that the contracted company does not endanger the organization's own SMS. One possi- ble means to achieve this objective is to incorporate into contracts and leases some clauses that facilitate the integration of critical safety elements such as communication, training, agreement to follow the airport rules and regulations, reporting of incidents and accidents, and so forth. If there is no obvious link between your organization and the third parties in your airport environment, create one. Where your operations overlap, provide the necessary link for coordination of safety processes and practices and sharing of information. For example, if an FBO rarely participates in any coordination activity within the airport, members of the FBO can be invited to integrate such committees when you create a safety committee.