The Value of a Safety Management System

In many organizations safety management is considered a high priority function, along with operations, sales, logistics, and other critical business tasks. A highly trained safety staff is a true asset to an organization and the safety department can be seen as a profit center. This is because by preventing accidents organizations may be able to reduce waste and the costs associated with a mishap, including lost work time and productivity, and the cost to repair or replace equipment. Despite the good intentions of many organizations to proactively manage safety, without a formalized Safety Management System (SMS) safety activities may miss the mark in some areas and the safety department may become overtasked as staff members work to conduct the safety activities themselves.

Safety Management Systems can provide a formalized structure to help lead and guide organizational personnel from multiple ranks, including top level leadership, department heads and supervisors, and line operators in the planning, implementation, and execution of safety functions. The ANSI/AIHA Z10 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems standard is a great example of such an SMS. Z10 is a structured approach, which provides a framework to build a highly functional SMS. Some of the key features which can help organizations strive towards Operational Excellence include a hierarchy of hazard controls, employee participation, design reviews and management of change, to name a few.  Z10 can help organizations to proactively manage safety and help leaders to not only know the importance of safety, but to also understand the structural elements of a comprehensive SMS. Additionally, safety leadership may help to provide the vision and strategy required to implement an SMS, such as ANSI/AIHA Z10. Safety leadership within an organization can act like a "rudder" to help steer the organization as its employees undertake the lofty goals needed to achieve operational excellence, such as the planning and implementation of an SMS. 

Reference: American National Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. Fairfax: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005. 1. Print.