What is a Safety Management System?
A Safety Management System (SMS) provides a systematic way to continuously identify and monitor hazards and control risks whilst making sure that the risk controls in place remain effective.
A Safety Management System is a systematic, explicit and comprehensive process for managing safety risks. As with all management systems, a safety management system covers setting goals, planning, and measuring performance.
A safety management system is woven into the fabric of an organisation, becoming part of the culture and the way people do their jobs.
They are designed to manage safety risk in the workplace, reducing risk to a level that is ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’ (ALARP for short) to prevent people getting hurt.
What is the purpose of the system?
An effective SMS should:
- Define how the organisation is set up to manage risk, including responsibilities throughout the business.
- Identify workplace risk and implement suitable controls to manage those risks.
- Implement effective communications across all levels of the organisation.
- Implement a process to identify and correct non-conformity and non-compliance issues.
- Implement a continual improvement process.
Safety management models
Safety management models may use different terminology but the basic components and workflow for safety management systems will be the same.
The desired outcome is an effective Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) process where the goal is that of continual and measurable improvement.
This approach is encompassed in the Health & Safety Executive document HSG65 Managing for Health & Safety.
Other systems that are widely used are those provided by the International Labour Organisation (ILO-OSH 2001) and perhaps the most recognisable standard; BS ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems.
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