SMS Safety Risk Management

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Sofema Online considers elements & issues related to Safety Risk Management within an effective Safety Management System.

Introduction - Safety Risk Management

Safety risk management is a generic term that encompasses the assessment and mitigation of the safety risks of the consequences of hazards that threaten the capabilities of an organization, to a level as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).

Where are the Typical Disconnects in the SMS System?

  1. Not reading and understanding ICAO guidance and State regulations - It is important to ensure that all key workers have a deep understanding and all workers have role specific training and an awareness of how to identify hazards and perform basic risk assessment.
  2. No awareness training for the AOC, AMO, CAMO - In these times of a complex and integrated regulatory environment it is important that employees have an appropriate level of role specific understanding of how the regulatory environment interacts.
  3. No preparation or documented plan - Many Companies under resource the Safety Management System and as a result “disconnects” appear and any weakness in the implementation plan are magnified.
  4. No monitoring of timeframe, “milestone” target dates - SMS is a top down system and it is essential that the implementation is achieved with the hands on oversight of the leadership team.
  5. “Cut and paste” on SMM - With so much information around the temptation to cut and paste is very strong but must be resisted if the safety system is going to be real & effective.
  6. Over complexity of system - Keep it as simple as possible the most effective systems really do not need to be complicated, the most important aspect is to genuinely apply real mitigations to all root and contributing causes.
  7. No “buy in” and ownership of the project and principles - Without “Top Down” ownership and engagement by the “Leadership Team”.
  8. The concept of embracing does not form part of AMO/CAMO routine - It is going to take time to embed SMS within the organisations systems and everyone has a part to play to make this successful.

Hazard identification is part of the process used to evaluate if any particular situation, item, thing, etc. may have the potential to cause harm. Identify hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification).

Remember that a Hazard is anything which has potential to cause Harm!

Safety Risk Assessment is a term used to describe the overall process or method where you: Identify hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification). Determine appropriate ways to eliminate the hazard, or control the risk when the hazard cannot be eliminated (risk control).

Remember that Risk is a Measure of how exposed we are to a particular Hazard!

Risk mitigation is the process of planning for disasters and having a way to lessen the negative impact. Other elements of risk management include risk acceptance and risk transfer. Risk acceptance is accepting a risk for a given period of time to prioritize other risks.

Systematic Approach to Managing Safety

ICAO defines SMS as “a systematic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organisational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures.”

Safety Risk Management requires a structured approach as well as an organisational framework with clearly defined policies, safety responsibilities and accountabilities.

To facilitate and encourage hazard identification, ensure a structured & consistent approach to risk assessment, as well as for allowing informed decisions to be made at the right organisational level, e.g. in relation to risk acceptability or different risk mitigation options.

Each organisation should train all staff to fulfil their duties, including those related to any safety management so that they are able to effectively communicate related to safety objectives.

Next Steps 

Please see or for details of available EASA, FAA & other regulatory & vocational compliant training.

For Classroom, Webinar & Online in support of the above subjects - please email or

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