Understanding The Best Practices For Your Safety Management System (SMS)

Posted 3.03.22 by:

Talking about a Safety Management System (SMS) and many turn to the aviation industry. However, a safety management system applies to every type and scope of work, business, or organization. So, understanding how a safety management system works is critical if you are to run a successful and safe operation.

This guide will discuss the various facets of safety management systems and delve into some best practices for safety systems management. Before discussing the benefits, your organization will receive when following a robust SMS, let’s define the concept and some fundamental principles. Hence, we are all on the same page. Let’s dive in.

System Safety Management: A Safety Management System (SMS) Explained

The OSHA and other organizations have published multiple explanations and best practices for you to create a robust safety management system. However, the amount of material available is vast, and some are difficult to understand.

SMS Definition For Businesses And Organizations

SMS best practices for small business at 1streporting.com

For any business or organization, an SMS or Safety Management System is a controlled and planned collection of procedures and processes that eliminate risk and empower safety in the workplace. 

By definition, a safety management system is any system that is implemented within a work environment to control risk and improve safety. The primary example that comes to mind is a business’s health and safety program and corresponding manual.

Typical health and safety programs consist of various industry and role-specific situational procedures for team members to implement when necessary. A robust SMS may include fire drill procedures, processes for dealing with workplace incidents or disasters, and more. To include everything you need, you will need to consult with a local OSHA or labor enforcement representative. Do this to ensure that you comply with all state, provincial, or local regulations. 

SMS Meaning Businesses And Organizations Take Notice

Businesses, organizations, charities, and everything in-between must have a valid and appropriate health and safety system in place. Even if you utilize volunteer work, it is still considered a workplace, and thus safety must remain paramount. 

What does it mean for your business? It means that you need to invest a bit of time into creating proper health and safety manual procedures and train team members accordingly. This set of actions will ensure that you are compliant with the most basic of obligations. Similarly, getting buy-in from your team can help create and improve even better procedures, so utilize those you have working at your disposal to complete the process.

To create your health and safety program and continue to manage it, you’ll need to understand the pillars of SMS as laid out by the OSHA. Similar information is available in other countries, but the concepts remain the same; let’s look.

Pillars Of SMS – What You Need To Know

According to the OSHA, a robust health and safety program consists of seven core principles:

  • Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
  • Improve compliance with safety laws and regulations
  • Reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums
  • Engage workers to participate in safety.
  • Enhance team member social responsibility goals
  • Increase operational productivity and enhance overall business operations

The safe work practices your business or organization employs will change more than just the safety of your workplace environment. A safe work environment changes the culture of your organization as well. With proper buy-in, your team members will help to increase safety awareness in the workplace for a contributed effort to sustain and improve a safe work environment.

The pillars of SMS are relatively straightforward to understand. Let’s look at some of the best ways to manage such a program effectively and efficiently.

Managing Safety In Your Organization

Managing a safety system within your business or organization can be stressful and seem like a lot of, perhaps unnecessary, work. However, this statement could be no further from the truth because you cannot put a price on a person’s life. It’s the catch-22 of the safety industry. Business wants to spend less, but with no tangible return on investment, it can be challenging to understand the importance of allocating resources to a robust safety program.

When managing risk and safety systems, it is wise to include an approach similar to the 4-step process recommended by the OSHA:

  1. Communicate. Let your team know you are dedicated to their health and safety. Communicate safe work practices and convey the importance of safety in the workplace. This action might include hosting toolbox talks, safety topic meetings, or even incorporating robust training procedures into various role requirements within your organization.

Similarly to training staff, you must remember to include any contractors, clients, or guests to your facility within your safety program matrix. If there are dangerous conditions on-site, you will need to address how team members handle these situations when non-staff personnel arrives on site.

  1. Define. Every business is different – different locations, building characteristics, and equipment. So, not every health and safety program will be the same. Some might be similar in function, but no two should be exactly alike. It would be best to define the goals you have for your SMS. As well, determine the risks that need to be mitigated by the said plan.
  2. Allocate. No health and safety process is complete until you have allocated the resources required to allow for implementation, maintenance, and upkeep requirements. Depending on the size of your organization, you might need to appoint a new position of health and safety manager or officer. You might need to create an in-house safety department or hire a third party to help achieve your safety program goals.
  3. Review Performance. Once a health and safety program is implemented, as a manager, you need to ensure that the processes are followed through. You should expect results from your team members if they are buying into your safety program. If they are not buying in, you’ll need to increase your communication and likely team member safety training.

SMS Methodology In A Nutshell

If your business is creating or even re-evaluating your current safety management methodology, it would help to understand the seven core elements that the OSHA discuss at the heart of any safety program:

  • Management Leadership – You need to show leadership when managing a safety system. This action improves buy-in from team members and provides evidence of your commitment to a safe work environment.
  • Worker Participation – As mentioned, through leadership comes buy-in. Worker participation is critical to a successful implementation of a safety management system.
  • Hazard Identification and Assessment – Identifying hazards using root cause analysis, hazard recognition, and performing facility inspections will all aid in a comprehensive safety management system. 

Using a downloadable form, report, inspection templates, or even better, a digital inspection and reporting application is a great way to complete your hazard identification inspections and documentation.

  • Hazard Control and Prevention  – Again, we have some significant, actionable steps to take.
    • Identify the risk and control options
    • Analyze the best controls available
    • Develop a hazard control plan to document the mitigation procedure
    • Identify, analyze, and implement controls for non-typical operations or emergencies
    • Implement all remaining controls

Following this methodology for implementing controls is compelling and actionable. Don’t hesitate to make safety a priority in your facility.

  • Education and Training – As you can well imagine, implementing safety procedures and hazard controls is pointless if you don’t have a well-trained team member base. Educating your team members on the various risks and mitigation strategies is critical to their buy-in to the program goals and the implementation of the program itself.
  • Program Evaluation and Improvement
  • Communication and Coordination

SMS Safer Practices For Your Business

Define SMS For Your Needs

As mentioned earlier, it is best practice to provide a customized SMS for your business. Although a health and safety manual might be a bit of an undertaking to create, merely copying generic information won’t make the cut for most businesses. 

Clearly defining your safety management system, its goals, its requirements, and the tools needed for implementation is the only path to an expectation of team member participation. Similarly, defining your SMS goals will aid you in clearly determining the direction required to achieve said goals.

Safe Management Certification

The health and safety of team members in the workplace can significantly improve when those creating, implementing, or maintaining safety management systems are certified to do so. Although not necessarily a legal prerequisite (check with local authorities to ensure this is the case in your local region), maintaining a health and safety department headed by someone who is certified in safe management practices is always a smart thing to do.

SMS Programs

There are multiple programs to aid you with better and safer SMS practices in the workplace. We have found that the key to a robust health and safety system has two primary elements:

  • Reporting and Analysis
  • Management

Managing your safety management system is pretty straightforward. It’s the creation and implementation that becomes a challenge. However, we mustn’t overlook the importance of good reporting or analysis.

Reporting is the backbone of any robust health and safety program. Although many businesses and organizations choose to utilize tools like downloadable incident reporting templates, many switch to a more efficient and effective solution. That is mobile form automation applications like the 1st Reporting app available on The Apple App Store and Google Play.

If you want to see what mobile form automation solutions can do for your business, reach out today to demo our secure mobile reporting application.

Safety Management System Questions Answered

Here are a collection of the most commonly asked SMS questions with fast response answers so you can get the solution you need – fast!

What Makes A Sound Safety Management System?

A good safety management system achieves the following:

  • Lowers the risk of workplace accidents and injuries
  • Reduces hazards through data-driven analysis
  • Improves safety of a workplace by increasing safety measures based on information gathered and analyzed
  • Reduces costs due to reduced lost-time accidents

What Are Safety Management Practices?

Safety management practices are the decisions to implement strategies, procedures, and mandates within an organization to better workplace safety.

What Are The Four Components Of Safety Management?

The four components of safety management are:

  1. Policies and procedures.
  2. Risk mitigation management.
  3. Evaluation of policies and procedures.
  4. Training and communications.

What Are The Elements Of Total Safety Management?

Total safety management is an expanded concept of the four components at the core of any SMS. These expanded elements are:

  1. A strategic basis.
  2. Performance orientation.
  3. Executive commitment.
  4. Teamwork orientation.
  5. Team member empowerment.
  6. Educated decision-making.
  7. Continual improvement.
  8. Ongoing comprehensive training.
  9. Unity of purpose.

How Do I Establish My Safety Management System?

Every organization needs an intelligent safety management system. Setting them up can be a bit challenging, especially if you’re trying to make your own report templates. However, as mentioned earlier, intelligent software solutions can make your SMS that much easier to set up and even easier to use day-to-day.

Enter the 1st Reporting app. This app is made for you and manages all your inspections, audits, reports, and other safety-related forms. The type of app is known as a mobile form automation solution because it’s both mobile and solves many issues by use of automation.

Communication issues are solved. Our application allows you to set customized notifications to know the moment a team member completes a report. Imagine learning about an incident occurring before a team member even has a chance to call you. With mobile form automation, tasks like this are built-in.

Managing your safety inspections, risk assessments, equipment safety audits, even visitor screening forms is easy with 1st. You can even get custom-generated reports based on your organization’s reporting history. It’s an invaluable technological tool for your health and safety management in the modern age.

You’ll find the app ready to take on your safety needs on Google Play and The Apple App Store.

Start reporting today

Join the globally-recognized brands that trust 1st Reporting to safeguard their organizations.

Join the globally-recognized brands that trust 1st Reporting to safeguard their organizations!