Latest Safety & HR News

26 April 2018

When is a Safety System not a Safety System?


When is a Safety Management System not a Safety Management System?

In my previous article I identified the requirement for organisations to have a safety management system (SMS).  But when is an SMS not an SMS?

Clients I have helped have been given a manual, some forms and processes that often replicate processes those in place but which they have been told that for safety reasons they must have. Then you read this manual and what I have found is that it is a collection of event forms and incident processes, uses a JSA in lieu of a proper accepted risk management model, has illegal HR processes and contains no reference to assurance. To make matters worse there is no backup to these manuals leaving the poor business owner to their own devices with little or no knowledge.  So it is not surprising that these 'Manuals' are left on the shelf to gather dust.

So what does a proper SMS look like? Well for starters all credible systems have as their basis the Plan - Do - Check - Act cycle.  So while that system may look and be applied differently by each organisation, at their heart they have the same building blocks. 

A credible safety management system will have the context of the organisation clearly articulated. This will give the needs and expectations of the workers and other parties and will set the scope of the SMS for the organisation.

It will provide for leadership and worker participation.  This includes commitment from the leadership to safety and will explain how workers will be engaged in safety management. This aspect will also contain the safety policies, explain how consultation will be undertaken and will give the safety responsibilities for the organisation.

There will be a section around planning, which will contain the need for identification of hazards, the assessment of these to identify the organisational risk profile.  It will also give the safety objectives and should list the requirements for consideration.

Next would be a section around information and communication that would cover documentation, access, management and control.

There would be a section on operational management that would include management of change, contractor management, PCBU to PCBU management, procurement and emergency preparedness.

Following this is an important aspect around assurance and the requirement for measurement, monitoring and evaluation. This would covers internal and external auditing needs, and well as the requirement for management review.

Finally, you should expect to see something around continuous improvement and and investigations.

If your SMS does not look anything like this, then perhaps you don't have an SMS.  If you thnk you need your system reviewed then call me or go visit my website to see how I might help you.




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Tracey Petterson
PTP Services Ltd
I engaged Jim to provide me with my HR when I purchased my business. Sometimes I could just hug him! He keeps things simple for me and gives me confidence that I am doing the right things. I understand the importance to receive HR advice that is professional and current with the latest NZ employment rules, so it is nice having him in my back pocket when I need his help. He is so easy to deal with, nothing is ever a problem and his advice is honest, even if I don’t want to hear it. I am getting from him exactly what I need. He is definitely worth the investment.
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OSACO Partners
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