Safety first. While it may sound like a cliché, it’s a mantra at facilities like airports. Maintaining a safe environment for guests, employees, and tenants is paramount.
In order to enhance those efforts, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is implementing a Safety Management System (SMS), becoming an early adopter of SMS among U.S. airports.
While Safety Management Systems are becoming the standard at airports around the globe, it is not yet mandatory at U.S. airports though there is legislation in the works to require it in the future. PHL is voluntarily introducing SMS, pointing to the positive impact SMS is shown to have on airport safety initiatives and creating a safety culture.
SMS is used by the Federal Aviation Administration in its internal activities and is required for U.S. scheduled air carriers. The agency is working on the final orders to make SMS mandatory at U.S. airports.
PHL has rolled out SMS in the Division of Aviation; a tenant rollout is slated to begin in the Spring.
“SMS enables employees, tenants and other business partners to operate in a safe environment because of purposeful safety efforts,” said David Staples, PHL Director of Safety Management Systems. “A core benefit of SMS is using data to make better risk-informed decisions as it relates to safety at the airport. It encourages employees to report safety related concerns voluntarily and confidentially if they so choose. It provides a framework for avoiding duplicate effort and misunderstanding, ensuring our safety work actually works.”
The Safety Management System components focus on policy, risk, assurance and promotion. It centers on identifying safety issues, analyzing and compiling findings, proposing additional controls, actions or changes and implementing changes.
The airport SMS program features a Hazard Reporting website portal in which safety issues are reported. A QR code is available for quick access using a smartphone with a QR scanner. The portal allows issues to be reported anonymously.
To promote the program and educate employees, the airport offers training classes through its Intranet. The various sessions feature an overview of SMS, its implementation, and safety risk management for managers. Training is also available for tenants.
“An integral part of the SMS is the reliance on airport employees to participate in and improve safety practices at every level,” Staples said. “At the center of SMS is the flow of information -- about safety, risk, new ideas, and challenges to understanding how work actually gets done – and improved two-way communication between the airport and its employee community as it relates to safety concerns and performance. PHL leadership is committing the policies and resources necessary to implement and sustain a useful, productive safety management system.”