Military News

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Enhancing Air Force safety management system, revised AFI align mishap prevention program with industry, federal agencies

by Darlene Y. Cowsert
Air Force Safety Center Public Affairs


9/15/2015 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- A safety management system (SMS) construct has been incorporated in the Air Force's mishap prevention program that aligns it with the same safety management standards used by industry worldwide.

SMS is recognized by the Joint Planning and Development Office, International Civil Aviation Organization, civil aviation and occupational health authorities, as well as product and service providers as the next step in the evolution of safety.

The revised Air Force Instruction 91-202, U.S. Air Force Mishap Prevention Program released in June, codifies the Air Force Safety Management System as the framework for the mishap prevention program. It provides the interface of the AFSMS within the mishap prevention program and ensures cohesion with the Air Force Inspection System.

"Safety management isn't new to Air Force Safety," said James Rubeor, Air Force Safety Center executive director.  "However, the AFSMS is now formalized in the revised AFI 91-202 to more clearly align our mishap prevention processes with recognized federal agency and national industry standards. Integrating a management system approach as a framework to execute the Air Force Mishap Prevention Program across all disciplines - occupational, aviation, weapons and space -- was the next logical step in the evolution of our mishap prevention program."

According to Bill Parsons, Air Force chief of occupational safety, the evolution of SMS improvements in support of the Air Force Quest for Zero mishaps provides well-defined actions and maintains focus on a pro-active safety program. "The same principles are applied in all our safety disciplines, and keep us properly aligned with the nationally recognized standards and current practices of our federal agency and industry partners with world-class safety programs."

The AFSMS construct is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act model and consists of four basic pillars: policy and leadership, risk management, assurance, and promotion and education. Leaders at all levels can use P-D-C-A methodology to ensure system integrity and continuous improvement.  AFSMS also integrates pre-existing and evolving pro-active (safety before the mishap) safety programs and initiatives to form a full-process, end-to end program for safety.

AFSMS focuses on a continuous identification and response to risks, hazards, safety issues, concerns; as well as planning, action, and monitoring results. The process helps leaders assess the safety performance of their unit while maintaining visibility and being actively engaged in monitoring the execution of the Air Force safety program. The process helps all Airmen identify risks and hazards, as well as concerns and opportunities for improvement.

"SMS integrates safety risk management and safety assurance concepts into recurring, proactive systems," said Mike Ballard, Air Force deputy chief of occupational safety.

"There is a role for every Airman at every level," Ballard added.  "An effective safety management system begins with a strong commitment of senior leaders that flows to leaders at every level and continues to Airmen right down the chain of command to the Airman on the flightline, in shops and workcenters of all types."

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