KLM Royal Dutch Airlines improve safety with their integrated safety management system

By Andrew O'Hara

This blog complements our white paper, Redesigning KLM, Rethinking Safety, which explores KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ industry-leading approach to managing safety.  The blog takes a closer look at KLM’s integrated safety management system (ISMS) and its stakeholders, including the interactions between them that help maintain and improve safety at all levels of KLM.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is an integral part of the journey for more than 32 million people every year, but since 2015 KLM has also been on a journey of its own.

Over the last five years, the Dutch flag carrier has redesigned itself and its way of working to become Europe’s most customer-centric, innovative and efficient airline.

Part of that redesign has been in bringing together the functions that look after safety and compliance to make sure that the company can keep running securely, safely and effectively.

By bringing these functions together, KLM has achieved a step-change improvement in safety performance and established an industry-leading approach to safety management.

The driving force behind its industry-leading approach is KLM’s integrated safety management system. This coordinates how safety is managed in four key areas: operational safety; occupational safety; environmental safety; and operational security and compliance.

The ISMS connects everyone involved in managing safety day-to-day and makes sure that safety can be continually improved in all four key areas across the company.

There are four key stakeholder groups in the ISMS:

  1. Safety Review Board 

The Safety Review Board (SRB) is a strategic meeting chaired by the Accountable Manager (Chief Operating Officer) that deals with high-level issues. The SRB sets strategic safety directives, including the company’s safety goals and provides the platform to:

  • monitor safety and compliance performance against safety policy and objectives; and
  • ensure appropriate resources are allocated to achieve the desired safety and compliance performance.

The main objectives of the SRB are the execution, communication and promotion of KLM’s Safety Policy and the review of the Integrated Safety Management System. All KLM safety objectives are agreed at the SRB and are reviewed on a weekly basis during the Management Team Operations (MTO) meetings.

  1. Safety Action Group

Each division within KLM has its own Safety Action Group (SAG), which assesses risk in terms of tolerability, manages safety issues and is responsible for the safety action plan.

The Management Team Operations (MTO) meeting acts as the corporate SAG and monitors if:

  • the company’s safety goals are being met
  • safety risks are identified; and
  • any necessary corrective action is taken in a timely manner
  1. Integrated Safety Services Organisation

The Integrated Safety Services Organisation (ISSO) brings KLM’s safety and compliance functions together into a centralised, independent support department to make sure that the company continues to operate securely, safely and effectively.

The ISSO monitors and measures safety performance, policy and advice and makes sure that the measures applied by all divisions are consistent.

  1. Staff and third parties, including KLM

The diagram describes how KLM’s ISMS works:

  1. Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs) supervise and enforce the rules and standards created by international and regional aviation agencies and organisations
  2. From these rules and standards, the Safety Review Board (SRB) creates the safety policy and Integrated Safety Management Manual, which describes the ISMS
  3. The SRB also assigns tasks and priorities, together with resources, to the Integrated Safety Services Organisation (ISSO)
  4. In turn, the ISSO monitors service delivery by staff and third parties, as well as compliance and internal investigations
  5. The ISSO provides information about regulatory compliance, hazards, safety issues and analysed risks to the Safety Action Group (SAG)
  6. The SAG also provides norms, resources, procedures, facilities and communication to all staff and third parties
  7. In addition, the SAG provides norms, procedures and communication to sub-contractors
  8. Staff and third parties raise safety reports, including OSR, ASR and CHER to the ISSO
  9. The SRB provides strategic direction, safety strategies and resources to the SAG
  10. In turn, the SAG feeds back requests, including for safety services, audits and surveys to the ISSO
  11. The SAG feeds back safety performance against safety goals and objectives to the SRB
  12. The ISSO then feed the safety policy and safety management manual, as derived from the rules and standards laid down in 2 to the Safety Review Board (SRB), which sets policy, sets tasks and priorities, provides resources and approves training
  13. The ISSO feeds information from the annual management review of the ISMS as well as information about the system’s performance to the SRB

The result is an industry-leading, risk and performance-based safety management system in which risk-based decisions can be made at all levels of KLM.

Bringing together and coordinating these four key safety areas:

  • gives KLM a better awareness of its risks
  • lets KLM respond to those risks appropriately
  • helps KLM identify opportunities to improve further

Download our white paper, Redesigning KLM, Rethinking Safety, which looks in detail at KLM’s integrated safety management system.

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