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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 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

Safety is engrained in everything we do at United and is our first standard in the core4 – there is no higher priority for our employees, our customers and our operation. One way we measure safety is through injuries and aircraft damages; each year we try to improve, and we are on track to meet our goals and targets for 2019.

Our lost time injuries (LTI) year-to-date* rate is 17% better than in 2018. We also track OSHA-recordable injuries (injuries that require anything beyond first aid) and we are 10% better than target compared to last year; as of early June, there were 100 fewer OSHA injuries than at this time last year. Our most common employee injuries are overexertion and slips, trips and falls – but we have had 6% fewer this year.

When we work safely, there are not only fewer damages, we see higher operational effectiveness and customer satisfaction with fewer canceled flights as well. So far this year, mainline aircraft damages are 8% better than target, and our United Express partner damages are 3% worse than target, for an overall consolidated figure that is 3% better.

Another way to look at safety is through our culture – how many of us are actively looking for hazards and ways to mitigate them? United teams up with the FAA and our union partners for five employee Aviation Safety Action Programs (ASAPs) that are voluntary and non-punitive. These programs encourage good faith reporting of hazards and mistakes to ensure we address safety and operational concerns.

This year our ASAP reporting is up 14% from last year, which is great news – that means more and more of us are talking about safety and how to do things better. ASAP is just one of our data streams that make up our Safety Management System (SMS), a comprehensive, formalized approach to managing safety risk throughout our organizational structures, policies and procedures.

At United, we look out for each other and strive to hold ourselves and each other to the highest standards of safety – nothing is more important than going home to our loved ones injury-free.

OSHA recordable injury rate

  • 2016: 5.54
  • 2017: 5.72
  • 2018: 5.56
  • 2019 YTD: 4.50
  • 2019 Target rate: 5.19

Lost-time injuries rate

  • 2016: 2.22
  • 2017: 2.48
  • 2018: 2.56
  • 2019 YTD: 2.01
  • 2019 Target rate: 3.67

Mainline aircraft damage rate

  • 2016: 2.22
  • 2017: 2.48
  • 2018: 2.56
  • 2019 YTD: 1.19
  • 2019 Target rate: 1.23

* Figures are YTD as of June, 2019