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A safety management system (SMS) is primarily a concept aimed at managing occupational health and safety within an organization. This circumstance means that about the notion aims at ensuring that the company not only conforms to the safety regulations but also generally controls risks and minimizes the existence of safety hazards and other negative safety elements within the workplace. At Blue Coral Copters (BCC), the main safety concern relates to both employees and customers. The company is operated in a rather informal and undefined manner that will require much restructuring in order to conform to the regulatory minimums in terms of safety. Undoubtedly, the pilots at BCC do try to be safe, but an SMS is about integrating the safety systems all through the company in order to create a comprehensive and uniform system that is effectively controlled and fully implemented across all aspects of the organization’s operations. This paper provides a safety report for BCC. Consequently, this report specifically assesses the situation as provided in the case and suggests remedy measures that the company must implement to create a proactive safety program that can deter future accidents.
The current situation at BCC is a little shocking for a company in the aviation industry. The laxity of the aviation authorities in regulating the industry within Hawaii may have played a big role in the bringing the situation to its current status, but Nick Doobie has also made a significant contribution with his system of management in BCC. Therefore, there is a number of critical issues withing this company’s SMS that are crucial and must be addressed immediately. These include (a) identifying and managing risk; (b) effective communication systems; (c) identifying and correcting non-conformities; and (d) improving the organization continuously.
Each organization requires a set policy aimed at guiding the operators on how to identify and deal with risky situations as applicable to the specific contexts of the organization (Wood, 2003). At BCC, the only type of safety policy comes in the form of a piece of advice from the manager. The pilots are generally encouraged to be safe and to check the weather before they leave for a tour. The company lacks a training program and the pilots mainly rely on what they know or what they learn from the instruction manuals. Basically, there is absolutely no form of policy or guideline aimed at helping the organization in identifying and managing risks. Every activity at Blue Coral Copters, Inc. is conducted informally and at will.
In accordance with the case, Nick Doobie basically communicates with the pilots in person when he feels the need to do so. Otherwise, the pilots simply have to review a clipboard to find out their schedules when they report for their shifts. This factor means that there is no effective communications framework that could be crucial to the safety and security of the pilots. Without a specific communications framework, the pilots are forced to work based on personal knowledge and experience (Wood, 2003). There is no knowledge sharing or even collaboration as would be expected. The pilots could even take out a damaged aircraft without fully understanding the risk involved. Other than the rare conversation with Nick Doobie, it is also rather clear that the pilots barely interact with one another. They are very different people, and with no company policy about vollaboration, it is likely that they are not even identifiable as a team. This obstacle widens the gap between them, thus making communication even more difficult.
The case indicates that at BCC, problems are addressed after something bad occurs or after someone has a ‘close call’ while in the air. In other words, any non-conformity within the organization cannot be identified until it is too late. A company without a system for identifying and correcting non-conformity basically operates on a full-time risk considering that they cannot find the existing problems and handle them proactively (Ferguson & Nelson, 2013). Thus, BCC is more of a reactive company with an unwritten ‘watch and wait’ policy with regard to dealing with safety issues. The case of encouraging customers to watch the belts is particularly worrying considering that the customers’ safety is not even the cited reason for the belts but rather the fact that these belts damage the exterior of the aircrafts. In this case, even when the non-conformity is identified, the organization does not address it with the required level of seriousness.
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With no training program in place, and no definitive recruitment policy in terms of qualifications, BCC is a rather difficult organization to manage strategically. The company requires a continuous improvement strategy that will involve a training program aimed at improving and standardizing the level of the pilots’ and the management skills (Wood, 2003). However, to do this, the company actually needs a level playing field for all the pilots. Currently, Doobie has hired both professional and non-professional pilots making it rather difficult to expect any level of standardized practice at BCC.
The fact that BCC is still operational at its present state is merely a miracle. For a company within the aviation industry and specifically dealing with customers, BCC would be expected to uphold some of the highest standards of safety in order to be operational. To be safe and up to the minimum standards for aviation, the company could take on a few changes for better practice not only for the customers’ safety and quality service but also for the pilots and the company as a whole.
First, the management at BCC needs to acknowledge that it is their main responsibility to guide their operators on safety issues. The whole idea of SMS is to provide a guiding principle that covers all the risks faced by the organization. On the one hand, Doobie and his colleagues could come together and decide on the relevant safety matters as related to their present context. However, tThis issue would require a complete turn in the management system in order to embrace some level of formality. Rather than simply encouraging the pilots to be safe and check the weather before they leave for a tour, the management needs to set up a protocol for the pilots to follow whenever they are on the shift.
Working within an environment where dialogue is the main means of communication has its own set of advantages, but when the dialogue is with a manager like Doobie, there are also a number of risks involved. A casual communication system inhibits the concept consistency by limiting the effectiveness of the conversations based on the relationship between the manager and the pilot (Kinnison, 2012). It is admirable that the pilots at BCC respect the manager, though they need a formal or at least more structural means of communication. A clipboard may work for reviewing flight schedules and shift plans. Nonetheless, these pilots need to have regular updates about the status of the aircrafts, new safety regulations, and any organizational changes that could affect their work, and weather reports as well as any other relevant information pertaining to the Hawaii airspace. Since the pilots also barely interact with one another, the company has to formulate a platform for knowledge-sharing where pilots are able to exchange the information that they could find useful in their line of work.
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BCC needs to be proactive when dealing with possible problems as related to safety within the organization. This circumstance means that the company cannot continue waiting for troubles to occur. As such, there must be a policy requiring regular inspection of the aircrafts, the submission of detailed reports after these inspections, and the correction of any identified problems as soon as they are reported (Rodrigues & Cusick, 2011). This approach will prevent having aircrafts that have faulty parts in the air. Moreover, the management at BCC must consider taking the safety more seriously, especially with regard to the customers. Non-conformities put all those involved at serious risk.
It may not be practical for the company to start recruiting new and well qualified pilots, but BCC should seriously consider training the current pilots in order to bring their performance up to the regulatory standards (Lutz, 2011). Since there are a number of well-trained and highly experienced pilots, the management can implement a mentorship program and then ease into more rigorous training and certification programs aimed at improving the skills of the staff.
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BCC is a well-performing company that is currently a safety nightmare for the aviation industry. In order to be more responsible and safer for both the customers and the pilots, the management will have to implement a number of SMS concepts. These include introducing the risk identification and management policy, an effective communication system, a policy for identifying and correcting non-conformities, and a training program aimed at improving the organization continuously without necessarily compromising on the operational costs or the hours put in by the pilots. Basically, Doobies needs to restructure the company and transform the management policies to become more definitive and reliable in terms of safety.