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System Safety Manager's Role and Responsibilities

System Safety Manager's Role.

Similarly, the system safety managers do not directly control any program activities. They function only with the program managers' or the commander's authority. They are effective only to the degree that the program managers are willing to accept guidance and advice, and only to the degree that the commander supports them. Fundamental to the mishap risk management concept is the requirement that competent and responsible safety management be assigned with centralized authority and totally capable of maintaining a continuous safety overview of the technical and management planning aspects of the entire program. The responsibility for preventing a mishap belongs to the program manager. It cannot be delegated. When the program manager makes the decision to initiate testing or commence operations, all risk inherent in the system has been accepted.

It is the task of the system safety manager to be sure that, when the decision is made, the decision maker is fully aware of the mishap risks that are accepted by that decision. If the program manager is allowed to make a decision without full knowledge of the inherent risks in the system, that manager, along with the taxpayers and the country, is being cheated. They are being cheated in that a critical decision, which could result in millions of dollars lost, is required to be made with incomplete information. There is no reason for this to happen. The tools and talent are available to provide this information. Properly used, this information can significantly reduce the risk of losing valuable equipment, personnel, and time. Program managers are not always aware of this or willing to use the resources which are available through the system safety process.

The program manager should begin establishing his system safety activity in a position of authority. The program is made effective by assuring an awareness of risk and the importance of reducing risk within all program elements down to the lowest organizational level. Each program element manager must periodically be held directly accountable to implement safety policies and decisions at the lowest organizational level possessing such authority. Most important, the program manager must assign a capable and knowledgeable watchdog to act as eyes and ears throughout the organization to ensure that the tasks are accomplished. The system safety manager is that watchdog, and to be effective, he must be assigned the authority to act directly as the safety agent of the program manager. In this capacity, the system safety manager assures that proper engineering and management expertise is brought to bear on a specific problem to identify and effect a solution. The task is to tie together, to monitor, and to influence activities for developing safe systems.

To be effective, continuous efforts from the large perspective of the total program, with an understanding of the various interrelationships among its organizational elements, are required. The system safety manager is a major motivating force for guiding system development safety through the evolutionary process and, as the program manager's agent, the system safety manager focuses the program manager's authority and responsibility on the program's safety aspects. The program manager, in turn, should require frequent progress reports to keep his fingers on the pulse of the system safety activity.

The mishap risk management concept evolved because the accepted approach of eliminating hazardous conditions through good engineering practice alone was not necessarily adequate to assure safe operation of complex military systems. Military development programs are traditionally success oriented. Program managers are not necessarily receptive to a function which tries to find out ways it can fail. Throughout the entire life cycle, program-oriented safety management is necessary if all of the safety-critical aspects of a system are to be controlled cost effectively. In planning and managing the reduction of risk, the system safety manager must be free, within the program structure, to exercise professional judgment and organizational flexibility with the authority of the program manager.

System Safety Manager's Responsibilities.

  1. Maintain an overview of the technical and planning aspects of all program efforts through attendance at appropriate meetings and review of program documents. It doesn't take long to lose touch with the world if you isolate yourself from it. The only way to get in touch and stay there is to maintain a constant working interface with as many individuals and groups as possible. The system safety manager should attend as many program office meetings as possible to have a good working knowledge of what is happening. There are some meetings that are specified as mandatory for the system safety manager, such as the configuration control board and system safety group meetings, but, generally, it is up to the system safety manager to determine which meetings are important.
  2. Ensure the application of system safety design principles to developing programs through contract tailoring and continual program oversight. This requirement is met by assuring the application of MIL-STD-882 to the contract to provide for a strong management approach and by applying all necessary technical requirements documents in the specifications.
  3. Serve as advisor to employer and contractor program management. In this way, you can be sure that the same advice and direction is being passed to all involved parties.
  4. Initiate programs to ensure unacceptable accident/mishap risks are identified and acceptably controlled. Each program will, for analysis purposes, define unacceptable damage that will impact the mission or its objectives. Damage includes breakage, mangling, mutilation, or ruin of items which causes obstruction of functions generated across system or component interface by internal or external action, including human error.
  5. Review all program documents to ensure they contain appropriate system safety tasks. This includes Statements of Work (SOW), plans, and operating procedures.
  6. Ensure that the requirements of interfacing agencies and disciplines are addressed and properly implemented.
  7. Ensure that system safety concepts are incorporated into planning documentation.
  8. Ensure that the program manager receives regular reports and briefings on the status and progress of the above tasks.
  9. Request staff assistance whenever problems or questions arise and the solution is beyond the scope of his knowledge and experience.
  10. Provide a single point of contact for the purchasing office, all contractor internal program elements, and other program associate or subcontractors for safety-related matters.
  11. Participate in all operational readiness reviews and arrange for presentation of required safety data.
  12. Provide for technical support to program engineering activities on a daily basis. Such technical support will include consultation on safety-related problems, research on new product development, and research/interpretation of safety requirements, specifications, and standards.
  13. Participate in configuration control activities to review and concur with safety significant system configuration and changes.
  14. Review all trade studies and identify those that involve or affect safety. Provide participation in all safety-related trade studies to assure that system safety trade criteria is developed and the final decision is made with proper consideration of accident risk.
  15. Provide participation in program-level status meetings where safety should be a topic of discussion. Provide the program manager the status of the system safety program and open action items.
  16. Provide for safety certification of safety-critical program documentation and all safety data items.
  17. Provide internal approval and technical coordination on deviations to the contractually imposed system safety requirements.
  18. Conduct or arrange for internal audits of safety program activities.
  19. Support purchasing office safety audits and inspections as required.
  20. s. Coordinate system safety, industrial safety, facility safety, product safety, and other safety activities on the program to ensure total coverage.

Source: USAF System Safety Handbook.

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