Spiffing Up Your SMS by John Sheehan

So, you’ve made it to Stage 2 or even 3 – congratulations. Once those hurdles have been crossed there is a tendency to slack off the effort, relying in the “We made it!” philosophy; a natural but potentially hazardous condition.

This is the time when you need to shift gears from the “we can make it to the next level” to the “now that we’re there how do we keep it fresh and alive?” This requires a different way of viewing the SMS, one that looks at performance issues rather than goal achievement.

Using the following questions as guidelines, go for continuous performance  and sustainability with your SMS:

  • Is the CEO and/or responsible person still aware of their safety policy statement? Have they continued to support the intent and spirit of the statement? How do you know?
  • Have those with designated safety-related authorities and responsibilities continuing to carry out their duties effectively and conscientiously? … more than just the Safety Officer/Manager.
  • Are all (majority, some, a few) employees continuing to actively participate in the SMS by submitting and tracking hazard reports, risk management techniques and safety awareness exercises? Do management-level employees actively participate, too?
  • Is progress toward stated safety goals being periodically measured? Do the safety goals still measure relevant issues? Are they truly measurable?
  • Is the system designed to track regulatory, standards and guidelines compliance effective?
  • Are employees aware of and using the contents of the operations manual and SOP? How do your know? Moreover, are these living documents?
  • Is safety (risk mitigation?) performance being regularly measured and assessed?
  • Are hazard identification and tracking techniques being applied to human factors issues, third party vendors and known or anticipated organizational changes?
  • Are risk assessment and mitigation techniques being used on a daily basis by all (most, a majority, a few?) of employees?
  • How often is the internal evaluation checklist being employed? How long does it take to get through the entire checklist? Are resulting deficiencies being mitigated and fed back into the standards?

…all of this should be evidence-based – show me the data!

Repeat quarterly and track your improvements.