A Safety Management System (SMS) includes a proactive approach to safety and is comprised of four components: Safety Policy, Safety Risk Management (SRM), Safety Assurance, and Safety Promotion. While it is generally accepted that SMS is beneficial and enhances the safety of the overall operating environment, it is still not broadly embraced nor is there a general understanding of SMS implementation. Those who have a SMS program claim that it’s likely that most airports are informally using many of the basic elements of SMS.
The SRM component comprises five steps: (1) describing the systems, (2) identifying the hazards, (3) analyzing the risk, (4) assessing the risk, and (5) mitigating the risk. The SRM process is used for all identified issues, regardless of the complexity or size of the airport. An issue could be as simple as being identified and immediately fixed or complex, such as a construction project requiring a more detailed SRM process.
While the benefits of SRM include a responsive safety environment and informed decision making, there are industry concerns regarding the SRM process. These concerns include the required staff time needed and the potential need to add staff; documentation; additional related expenses; and the increase in time to get from design to construction with more complex projects. These concerns are amplified for those airports with limited resources. Research is needed to provide airport operators with guidance on how to efficiently and effectively conduct the SRM process.