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The organisational Safety Policy is considered the foundation of the Safety Management System (SMS) established by an operator/service provider. It’s the first important milestone of SMS implementation that defines the value of safety in the overall business and performance framework of the organisation. Ideally, the safety policy should confirm the organisation’s commitment to safety and clearly indicate that safety is afforded highest priority in the service provision. ICAO Safety Management Manual (Doc 9859) suggests that the management commitment to safety should be formally expressed in a statement of the organisation’s Safety Policy, which will reflect the organisation’s philosophy of safety management.
The Safety Policy may take many different forms, but normally it is a written document that describes the generic principles upon which the SMS is built and operated. A typical safety policy document would consist of a policy statement that is further expanded by a number of basic safety management principles to be followed, namely commitment to safety, safety priority, safety responsibility, planning for safety, safety management, safety standards, safety achievement, safety assurance and safety promotion.
The Policy statement is a declaration of the overall safety objective of the organisation. It sets the general direction and aspirations for improved safety performance.
Basic Safety Principles
The Commitment to safety principle typically includes a statement about the commitment of the organisation’s senior management to ensure that all aspects of service provision meet the safety performance targets. Safety is declared the highest priority of the organisation. These goals are achieved through further commitment of the organisation to provide the necessary resources for the effective management of safety.
The Safety responsibility principle requires that all staff of the organisation have individual responsibility for their own actions in respect to safety, and that management is responsible for the safety performance of the organisation.
Planning for safety is an important prerequisite for proactive SMS implementation. It enables the setting of organisation’s safety performance targets and identification of strategies, approaches and concrete plans for achievement of acceptable level of safety of services provided.
The Safety management principle confirms the commitment to an explicit and proactive approach to safety by means of a formal SMS implementation. It includes the organisational aspects of SMS and requires that a safety management structure with associated roles and responsibilities is established within the organisation.
The Safety standards principle ensures the compliance with the applicable safety regulatory requirements and the organisation’s aspiration to adopt internationally recognised safety standards and best practices in safety management.
The Safety achievement principle requires that means, processes, procedures and resources are used by the organisation (e.g. risk assessment, occurrence reporting and investigation, etc.) to satisfy the high level safety objective and safety performance targets.
Safety assurance includes means, processes, procedures and resources to demonstrate the compliance with the safety standards and deliver the required evidence about the achieved level of safety (e.g. safety surveys, safety records, etc.) Also, the safety assurance methods used by an organisation shall support the identification of safety issues and establishment of recommendations for safety improvement.
The Safety Promotion principle ensures that safety lessons and key messages are disseminated throughout the organisation, communication of safety issues is encouraged and changes are systematically made to improve safety.
The Safety Policy is typically written and documented under the authority of the highest level of management of the organisation, approved by the State’s regulator and communicated to all staff of the organisation. The properly communicated Safety Policy is a prerequisite for the creation and development of positive safety culture within the aviation operator/service provider.
- A generic sample Safety policy statement provided by ICAO can be viewed here.
- ICAO Integrated Safety Management website;
- ICAO Doc 9859 - Safety Management Manual, Third Edition - 2013;
- Flight Safety Foundation, Ground Accident Prevention Leadership Tip Sheet2 - Safety Policy Development.