It is a legal requirement for companies to have formal Health & Safety Management System (SMS) in place. However, it should be remembered that the extent and complexity of an SMS will depend upon a number of factors.
For example, a garage with three or four employees, carrying out mechanical repairs and servicing of cars, will only require a basic management system. On the other hand, an oil and gas production company, with over 10000 employees, will require something much more formal and much more intricate.
Health & Safety Management System Basics
Regardless the size of the company, or the nature of work that is carried out, there are five basic requirements of a Health & Safety Management System:-
- Organisational competence.
- Planning through risk assessment.
- Monitoring performance.
Every company should set out its policy for ensuring the health, safety and welfare of its employees. Often called a ‘Statement of Intent’ this is a document that business owners or senior executives commit to.
The Statement of Intent should contain more than one single statement; instead it should have several paragraphs that clearly demonstrate management have accepted their responsibilities for employee safety.
An overview of organisational competence forms an important part of the health & safety management system in any business. This part of the document looks at laying out workplace training needs to ensure safety procedures are understood and followed. A properly completed competence overview will ensure all staff have the right safety training.
The organisational competence document will generally look at the following key points:-
- How do employees get training in the tasks that are being undertaken?
- What type of safety training is available to employees?
- How are employees inducted into the company?
- What about fire evacuation and fire safety awareness training?
These are all important topics to ensure that employees remain safe and healthy at work.
Every company should identify exactly what is needed in terms of training, and should identify how employees will get this training. It is common for a ‘competence matrix to be drawn up. This is simply a document that has the names of all employees down the left, and the training they require across the top.
The competence matrix can be used as a planning and budgeting tool. Courses for employees can be scheduled, with any refresher training identified on the matrix.
Our guide on industry recognised health & safety qualifications will help you understand how to get NEBOSH certified skills for staff. This can aid professional development, and be a valuable asset to the workpalce.
Planning and Risk Assessment
Risk assessment is fundamentally important in modern health and safety management. It doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact the best risk assessments are those that are kept simple.
Risk assessment is a planning tool, which looks at the workplace hazards involved in doing a task and considers the risks from those hazards. Once hazards and risks have been identified, additional control measures can be put in place.
Control measures may consist of:-
- Procedures to do the job.
- Guarding on machinery.
- Inspections of hand tools and other equipment.
- Personal protective equipment such as hard hats, boots and goggles.
- Staff training.
Regular safety inspections are an essential component of the Safety Management System. Safety inspections, which should be carried out monthly, are aimed at spotting unsafe conditions and unsafe practices.
Unsafe conditions are those that present a hazard in the workplace. For example:-
- Poor housekeeping.
- Unguarded equipment.
- Blocked fire exits.
Unsafe practices are those that involve the way people work. For example:-
- Using an item of equipment without the appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Smoking in undesignated areas.
Reviewing Health & Safety Management Systems
At least annually, the entire Health & Safety Management System should be reviewed, together wilth all the risk assessments and safety inspections that were carried out during the year.
By carefully analysing risk assessments and the findings from inspections, recurring problem areas can be spotted and lessons can be learned for the future.
Like any other management system, the SMS needs to be kept simple and practical. By committing time and effort to developing and implementing a suitable SMS, accidents and injury can be kept to a minimum.