What is a Safety Management System?
OSHA defines a safety management system as:
“A decisive factor in reducing the extent and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses.”
A safety management system is essentially a planned process with a set of regulations and policies, which help mediate and successfully carry out certain activities within a workplace in a safe, productive manner. It provides a systemic approach to organizing and categorizing institutional structures to provide accountability for policy and procedure adherence.
The Basics of a Safety Management System
The implementation of a safety management system enables organizations to control and effectively regulate the possibility of a safety risk within a working environment. It not only allows organizations to identify and predict a foreseeable injury, but also take the necessary precautions needed to avoid the risk of harm.
Just like any other management protocol, a safety management system includes consistent and strategic planning, structural organization, guided directions, and open communication.
Some of the basics of an SMS include, but are not limited to the following:
- Establishing the concept of safety
- Understanding the evolution of safety risks and required protocols
- Knowing and understanding the probable injury causative system failures
- Regulating the baseline employee performance to follow procedures to prevent risk of harm when deviating from the original requirements
- Assessment and understanding of the human performance and its effect on safety
- Managing system oversights to avoid errors or violations that occur because of noncompliance with the SMS regulations
- Laying the framework for establishing and promoting a safety culture within the organization to have all the members of an institution prioritize safety policies without compromising productivity
- Devising ways to balance both safety and workplace productivity for optimal organizational results
- Balancing the changes in regulatory policies and procedures over time and with the change in existing practicing system and equipment
- Managing hazard potential with respect to the changes in procedure and safety management practices
- Implementing effective and timely reporting processes to document accidents, incidents, or safety hazards
- Setting in motion thorough investigation protocols for accident management
- Having in place data collection procedures for the maintenance of a job-specific safety database for the effective and reliable analysis of the hazard or accident incidences
- Having data protection protocols to prevent the potential misuse of sensitive information
- Implementing analysis practices for quality assurance purposes as well as for the effective compliance with safety management systems
- Having in place strict performance indicators and monitoring to evaluate the probability of safety risks as well as the effective safety risk management
The Importance of a Safety Management System
Safety management systems are in place to provide strict criteria that aid organizations in achieving their objectives in a regulated, performance-based manner. These systems allow the effective implementation and management of safety protocols within an institution as well as within an industry, overall. Furthermore, safety management system compliance helps businesses fulfill their legal responsibilities as well as benefit financially.
Some of the various ways in which SMS compliance benefits organizations are listed below:
- Helps provide safe and stable consumer support
- Helps reduce insurance premiums, due to the implementation of safety protocols
- Reduces the possibility of accidents/injuries
- Minimizes loss of life in hazardous working conditions
- Improves employee satisfaction and morale
- Enhances productivity with improved health of the employees
- Minimizes absenteeism
- Leads to a balanced interaction with the regulatory authorities
For employers and employees across all sectors and industries posing potential risks to human life in any way, it is highly recommended that they be sufficiently trained in safety management systems and protocols via a certified training program.
A safety management system course, such as the OSHA standardized Process Safety Management course can help employees and employers understand and keep up with the evolving occupational health and safety federal policies. It also allows them to familiarize themselves with the changes in the safety management systems.