Practical Safety Management System – Part 1 Introduction

Many Safety Professionals believe that use of a Safety Management System results in continual improvement of their risk control efforts. As a result, Environmental, Health & Safety Management System Standards are proliferating throughout the world. So many in fact, that they could confuse harried safety professionals attempting to manage their organization’s risk control efforts.

Study of the great variety of available standards leads me to conclude that there is no single best way to implement a SMS, in spite of the apparent pursuit of that goal. Most available standards do provide effective guidelines for organizing general system requirements. This of course, is the first step in establishing a SMS. However, specifics regarding accomplishment of tasks to achieve compliance are generally lacking.

SMS Enables Systematic Implementation

The use of a SMS does not relieve users of traditional requirements to identify hazards, analyze risk and devise controls to prevent harm. The SMS simply organizes tasks in a manner that enables their systematic accomplishment and facilitates continual improvement of their efforts.

I consider the provision of ongoing guidance to be a critical factor in managing consistent performance specified by a SMS. This is particularly true within organizations with geographically dispersed locations, and/or frequent turnover of personnel.

Of course, a SMS can be established and implemented without using sophisticated computer applications. However, my experience suggests that the use of appropriate software can dramatically simplify the provision of guidance that facilitates consistent task accomplishment throughout any organization.

The Audit XL website lists titles of sample content modules that can be used by our clients as a starting point for developing their own Management Systems. For instance, the Safety & Health Management System (SHMS) module describes typical elements that might be considered by Safety Professionals.

For organizational purposes, Audit XL module content is divided into Key Elements that group together commonly associated activities. Individual components of each Key Element are then presented as Requirements that summarize implementation measures. Lastly, a series of Assessment questions associated with each Requirement facilitates implementation and performance evaluation for that system component.

This series of posts will illustrate one method of providing consistent guidance to establish, implement and continually improve an effective Safety Management System. The examples shown are not intended nor do they claim to address the specific needs of all users. Those who choose to use this content must analyze their needs and make appropriate modifications to ensure that it addresses their unique requirements. Further, users must ensure that any implied references to regulations, standards or requirements are appropriate and current.

I invite your comments and suggestions.

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