The System Safety Program Plan is one of the most important system safety documents. The SSPP is the foundation for all system safety analyses and demonstrations. The SSPP describes in detail the tasks and activities of system safety management and system safety engineering required to identify, analyze, and mitigate hazards by reducing their associated risks to acceptable levels throughout the system life cycle. Boring, right? Keep reading !!
The approved SSPP provides a formal basis of understanding between the contractor and the customer to ensure that adequate consideration is given to safety during all life cycle phases of the program and to establish a formal, disciplined program to achieve the system safety objectives.
HCRQ's services are very often requested to review and comment on SSPPs. We have even been asked to skim through these documents when there is no NDA in place.
Frequently there is too little emphasis placed on this document. Poorly written SSPPs can be and have been very detrimental to both the customer and the contractor. For one thing, they are an immediate target of the plaintiff's lawyers should an accident occur. Some of our clients can attest to this. The lawyers start with the contents (e.g., its commitments, its non-commitments, its wording), then they can subpoena the people that wrote it, signed it, regardless of where these people currently work. Speaking of signatures, we have seen SSPPs signed by people who never read them. There are two other system safety documents that are frequently seized by the lawyers. Caught your attention??
If system safety effort is underway without a solid, defensible SSPP in place, you can be in serious trouble and may pay dearly for this later in the program. This is true even if an SSPP is not required by contract.
One of the particularly sensitive areas of an SSPP is hazard risk assessment and the associated matrix. You would not believe the mess that people have got themselves into in this area.
If your system contains safety-critical software, you should have a Software Safety Program Plan (SwSPP) or a very solid software safety section in your SSPP.
There are a few things that one should know regarding SSPPs if the "E" version of MIL-STD-882 is being used. WOW - WATCH OUT !!!! IT IS INCREDIBLE AFTER SO MANY VERSIONS THAT THERE ARE SERIOUS FLAWS/PROBLEMS WITH IT.
Easily 80% of the SSPPs that we have seen, throughout our 30+ years of operation, have had serious flaws and omissions. We sometimes question the pedigree of those who wrote it and the others who reviewed or signed it.
- create the SSPP for you,
- teach you our comprehensive SSPP webinar, or
- review and comment on your SSPP before it is issued, trouble starts, and risks escalate (this service is frequently requested).