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Safety Management System (SMS)

Safety is United’s top priority. We all share a passion for ensuring the safety of our customers and each other.

We fulfill this promise through United’s Safety Management System (SMS), our comprehensive, formalized approach to managing the safety of everyone at United. Every day, through our SMS, we seek to manage risk and achieve the highest level of safety performance throughout the company.

The SMS is a regulatory requirement that helps ensure we are safer by committing to safety standards, communicating across divisions and departments, hazard identification and mitigation, and confirming that our mitigations are working properly.

United and our eight United Express regional partner airlines achieved 100 percent compliance with the FAA’s rule requiring all U.S. commercial airlines to develop and implement an SMS, and we did so ahead of deadline thanks to our employees’ efforts.

According to Corporate Safety Vice President Michael Quiello, “Everyone at United plays a role in SMS, and there is so much to be proud of in achieving this important milestone.”

Ensuring safety for employees and aircraft

In 2017, we had a 5 percent decrease in the number of lost-time injuries compared to 2016 — that means 73 fewer people spent time at home as a result of injuries. OSHA recordable injuries, which are those that require anything beyond first aid, improved by 6 percent, meaning 208 fewer of our colleagues experienced OSHA recordable injuries compared to 2016.

When we work safely, there are also fewer aircraft damaged. Last year, for both mainline and our regional airline partners, we achieved 57 percent better outcomes than the previous year, with 29 fewer aircraft damages. These statistics reflect our best year ever for achieving these important safety metrics. All of these accomplishments are made possible by the countless smart decisions our employees make every single day. Every one of our employees from the top down is responsible for building and maintaining a culture of safety.

OSHA recordable injury rate

  • 2012: 6.85
  • 2013: 6.87
  • 2014: 6.60
  • 2015: 6.02
  • 2016: 4.91
  • 2017: 5.34
  • 2018 YTD: 5.51

Lost-time injuries rate

  • 2012: 3.45
  • 2013: 3.19
  • 2014: 3.15
  • 2015: 3.13
  • 2016: 2.13
  • 2017: 2.58
  • 2018 YTD: 2.12

Mainline aircraft damage rate

  • 2012: 2.24
  • 2013: 2.29
  • 2014: 2.18
  • 2015: 1.63
  • 2016: 1.33
  • 2017: 1.22
  • 2018 YTD: 1.13

* Figures are YTD as of April 23

Data visualization and the Green Cross for Safety Innovation Award

United is recognized in the industry for our efforts to keep employees and customers safe. To that end, our data visualization model turned mountains of safety data into accessible, easy-to-use, multilingual information, earning us a Green Cross for Safety Innovation Award from the National Safety Council in 2016. Since implementing data visualization, we have reduced aircraft damage by 23 percent and injuries by 11 percent overall, and our Airport Operations division reduced injuries by 20 percent.

At United, Marketing, Sales, Cargo, Technical Operations, Network Operations, Airport Operations and Food Services have all adopted the data visualization model to tackle problems or deepen our understanding of a range of issues — from customer satisfaction scores and employee feedback to integrated safety management systems, Technical Operations performance metrics, fuel planning and even our loyalty program.

"Data visualization allows us to be proactive and eventually predictive in safety analysis and identifying hazards so we may prevent them," Quiello says.