Tuesday 16 August 2016

Safety Management System (SMS): The Safety Policy and Commitment Element

A safety management system is designed with the intent to serve as a framework for an organization, as a minimum, to meet its legal occupational safety and health obligations. A safety management system is only as good as its implementation and sustainable efforts.  A world class safety management system involves every level of the organization, instilling “the value of safety” within the workforce that reduces incidents and improves a reduction of risk. Furthermore, a world class safety management system provides evidence of continuous improvement. A business that embraces a safety management system, will have a story to tell and capturing continuous improvement within the elements of safety management system is a key factor of validating the safety management system.

As you know, within a safety management system, all parts are interrelated and affect each other. All elements within the safety management system are related to all other elements of the system. A flaw in one element will most likely impact all the other elements, and therefore the quality of the system as a whole.

This article will briefly focus on the Safety Policy and Commitment element. This particular element set the foundation of all the other elements for the one and only reason.  That reason is that the other elements must circle back to the safety policy and commitment. Remember, all activities within the safety management system are to reflect the safety policy and commitment set forth by the organization. 

The organization must prepare an effective occupational safety policy that provides a clear direction for the organization tofollow in order to improve and continuously improve worker safety.  Once written, the policy and commitment will contribute to all other aspects of conducting day to day business within the organization.  The policy should provide a commitment to continuous improvement along with compliance to occupational safety law.  Defining expectations of customers’, stakeholders, employees and contractors should also be documented within the policy.

An example of a Safety Policy is:
  • Safety and health in our company shall be a part of every operation.
  • Safety is every employee's responsibility at all levels.
  • We shall comply with local safety and health jurisdictional regulations.
  • We shall maintain a safety and health management system conforming to the best practices within our specific industry.
An example of a Safety Commitment is:
The safety and health of every employee is a high priority. Management accepts responsibility for providing a safe and healthy working environment and employees, at all levels, shall take responsibility for performing work in accordance with established safety and health standards and practices. Safety and health will only be achieved through teamwork.  Everyone must join together in promoting safety and health and taking every reasonable measure to assure safe working conditions within our place of work.
In conclusion, operating on the principle of PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT, a safety management system enables an organization to carefully examine what they do, define and implement safety improvements and continuously review and manage safety systems and processes.
PLAN - Plan the safety management system.
DO – Implement the safety management system.
CHECK - Evaluate the safety management system.
ACT - Improve the safety management system.
The PDCA activities should always, lead a path back to what is stated in the safety policy and commitment.   It will be a waste of time and energy to engage in activities that do not mirror the policy and commitment since those activities will not be based upon reducing hazards to an acceptable level of risk.

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