The scope and maturity of a safety management system (SMS) to manage safety risk in the workplace varies by industry type, location and company because some are more regulated than others and that dictates the level of maturity and robustness a system requires. However, there are common components every SMS has, including:
Audit Management that includes scheduling, tracking, data collection and reporting for all internal or external audits to simplify and ensure compliance across all company locations and operating jurisdictions.
Document Control that improves document management across the complete lifecycle of an organization’s compliance efforts and activities. It’s important to control access to sensitive files, forms and reports while preventing errors, reducing risk and improving visibility.
Training Management that makes it easy to plan and track EHS training for a global workforce. Worker education and training is critical to building a robust and resilient health and safety culture while staying on top of diverse and always evolving industry regulations.
Regulatory Compliance which means adhering to key EHS regulations/directives and being able to prove it to the appropriate regulatory entities. This involves understanding the standards and regulations applicable to your industry and operating locations, collecting, analyzing and reporting all required data and proving compliance through inspections and audits.
The Data Collection Components of Safety Management Systems
SMSs report essential business information, ensure compliance requirements, help to manage risks and improve operational performance. Below is an overview of key SMS components and the types of data that each uses to create insights.
Safety audits are a staple of SMS and performed to measure the effectiveness of occupational health and safety programs as well as identify deficiencies. During an audit, an organization would evaluate its safety controls, assess whether employees follow safety processes, gauge equipment performance and operations, measure best practices and validate recordkeeping.
Information collected during an audit identifies hazards, assesses the effectiveness of safety measures to control those hazards, and determines whether an organization complies with OSHA requirements. Safety audit data sources include:
- Incident reports
- Equipment inspections
- Safety training completion reports
- Documented work practices
- Equipment inspection reports
OSHA standards provide specific environmental guidelines and limits for the utilization of safety practices, equipment and tools by employers to protect employees from workplace hazards. OSHA standards apply to a wide range of industries and to most worksites. These include:
- Fall protection requirements
- Trenching cave-ins protections
- Infectious diseases protections
- Confined spaces safety
- Harmful substances exposure prevention
- Machine guarding
- Safety equipment
- Dangerous jobs training
Data requirements for OSHA regulatory compliance include records of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. According to OSHA, these records must be maintained at a worksite for at least five years. Each February through April, employers must post a summary of the injuries and illnesses recorded in the previous year. Also, if requested, copies of records must be provided to current and former employees, or their representatives.
Safety Management Systems facilitate incident data collection through intuitive forms, simplified templates and auto-filled fields. Mobile applications in use by many organizations allow users to report incidents in real time and upload things like photographs and documents directly to a single centralized location. Data requirements for an incident report include incident types (injury, near miss, property damage or theft); the incident date, time, location and individuals affected; plus, a description of the incident including the sequence of events and results.
Root Cause Analysis
To resolve the underlying factors and conditions that pose hazards and may have led to an incident, it’s necessary to understand the root cause. Root cause analysis is essentially problem solving. The tools of SMSs provide the means to an end of workplace hazards and incidents using collected data that’s analyzed and evaluated to ultimately reveal concerning trends, which can then be corrected.
Compatibility with and accessibility to other systems and data is vital to root cause analysis as teams across an organization need to share and coordinate on examining reoccurring and costly incidents. Check out Intelex’s Health and Safety Management Software that makes it easy to manage your organization’s health and safety program.
Reporting and Analytics
Reporting and analytics bring order to difficult-to-comprehend data. Traditionally, data collection and information analysis often involved painstaking manual and time-consuming effort, which often resulted in reports created from out-of-date data. Modern SMSs that utilize technology to maintain ongoing dashboards and reports keep the story current by leveraging real-time data.
An integrated health and safety management system taps into safety processes, training status, compliance requirements, hazard data and incidents from a centralized source. That provides up-to-the-minute, accurate data, and combined with analytics, spot early-warning hazard signs, identifies important trends and monitors incidents. Safety data sources include health and safety efforts, audits, investigations and incidents.
Get the Intelex Insight Report, Safety Management Systems: Building a Foundation on Data, to learn how to develop a safety management system for your organization and the data needed to improve its effectiveness.