2 min read

How to develop a safety management system – Part 1

By Joanna Weekes

Wednesday’s OH&S Bulletin talked about what makes up a safety management system and why it’s important for you to have an effective system in place to create and maintain a safe working environment.

Managing workplace health and safety should be integrated into all activities in your business. It should always be considered first when you are:

  • developing and implementing induction processes:
  • training workers; and
  • performing appraisals.

Health and safety should also be an integral part of your purchasing, budgeting, procurement and consultation systems.

Read on to learn how to develop a safety management system for your business…

How to develop a safety management system

Use the following steps to develop a safety management system for your workplace:

Step 1: Create a health and safety governance structure

Your safety management system should identify people within your business who are responsible and accountable for the adequacy of the safety management system.

To do this, describe your business’s health and safety structure by:

  • setting out responsibilities and authorities; and
  • determining who is accountable for all health and safety-related issues in your business.

For example, determine who will be responsible for:

  • managing compliance with health and safety duties;
  • developing relevant policies;
  • disseminating information;
  • establishing and maintaining consultation processes with workers;
  • planning and conducting health and safety training; and
  • budgets for improving safety controls.

Senior management should demonstrate a commitment to health and safety by being part of the development of health and safety policies, approving and signing the policies, and being involved in its communication to workers.

Step 2: Set up a mechanism to consult your workers

Set up processes to facilitate consultation with your workers about health and safety matters that affect them. This is most commonly done through a health and safety committee or representative.

Your safety management system should ensure that workers know about relevant health and safety risks and solutions, and have the opportunity to have meaningful input.

If workers are involved in a plan to manage health and safety, they are more likely to make the plan work and help measure outcomes. There should be opportunities for one-on-one communication between management and workers, as well as clear and regular feedback.

Most health and safety legislation requires consultation with stakeholders before key decisions or changes are made. Consultation also assists in ensuring the safety management system is underpinned by trust and mutual respect leading to effective worker input in implementing and maintaining safety in the workplace.

Step 3: Develop health and safety policies and procedures

The policies and procedures you develop for your company will depend on the size and nature of your business.

Many policies and procedures are common to most businesses, e.g. incident reporting, hazard management, bullying, performance management, consultation. But many others are more specific and are not required for all workplaces, e.g. handling chemical substances, forklift procedures, confined spaces, remote or isolated work.

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