Understanding Safety / SMS More

Safety Cases

Safety Case is a tool for accomplishing safety assurance. When applied correctly is breeds clear and amazing benefits to the organisation, such as reducing costs, reducing injuries, improve staff satisfaction etc. One main advantage of safety cases, is that is produces at your own time whilst developing the system, providing an opportunity for predictive SMS. Safety case in nothing more than collection of supportive evidence towards a conclusion, including facts, arguments and possibilities. As a structured document, it is targeting a compelling, comprehensive and valid conclusion in regards to safety for a given application, system, or process in a given operating environment. The most important part of a safety case, is ensuring that the process in question meets all applicable legislation and regulation. It should not however remain limited to only this. Hazard identification and risk management should be part of the safety case, including an assessment, information and guidance on the integration process of the element into the overall system. Further to this, it has to provide clear lines of communicating the process, the relevant (and residual risks) and furthermore define the tracking mechanisms for monitoring. In simpler terms, it describes what needs to be managed.

Purposes for conducting a safety case:

  • As a mean to record the residual risk – in an attempt to understand the extend of risks and the effectiveness as well as the legalities of the protections
  • As a change management tool – comparing the new versus the old
  • As a record of engineering practices – traceability of process and of actions
  • Tool in court of law – justification towards authorities about specific actions/ decision
  • Marketing tool – a way to promote your culture to clients and promote your solution/ product
  • Financial justification of SMS

As safety cases are not mandated in aviation, the decision remains solely on the executives and the responsible managers. Safety case construction is all about communicating. Therefore, it needs to be structured and presentable. It can be hand (paper) or soft (digital-electronic). A paper format looks more familiar to the human eye but it is also harder to index, update or present long-complicating data. An electronic format will allow for the advantages of IT, like diagram analysis and reduce printing cots, but requires interface familiarity and training. It is also prone to viruses and data theft. Irrespective of the mean, the safety case should include at least the following:

  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • System description
  • Assumptions used
  • Progress in integration
  • Safety requirements meet
  • Emergency and contingency arrangements
  • Operational information
  • Independent safety audit/ review
  • Conclusions and recommendations
  • References
  • Safety arguments
  • Safety evidences
  • Issues arisen
  • Limitation
  • Hazard identification and risk assessment

Safety cases must be reviewed and updated periodically.