Q3. How is a safety management system organised?

The ILO-OSH 2001 system, as shown below, comprises three broad areas:

• The five central sections represent the main components of our safety management system (SMS). Using a defined clockwise workflow, these sections interact and apply across all levels of management and the workforce.

• The inner core, labelled 'Audit', indicates that the use of the audit process across all of the components is essential to ensure that the SMS is working as defined.

• The outer ring, labelled 'Continual Improvement', is an essential ongoing process that must take place in order for the system to improve and evolve once the SMS is operational.

The vast majority of SMS models cover the following sections in much the same order as the ILO model, although there may be differences in terminology and structure. You need to consider:

1 - Policy

• The key principles, aims and objectives of your organisation.

• Incorporating industry-specific best practice requirements.

• Incorporating other management systems (such as quality or environmental management systems) into your SMS.

2 - Organisation

• Defining management structures and levels (by department and by management levels).

• Defining roles and responsibilities.

• Defining reporting hierarchies.

3 - Planning and Implementation

• How your organisation identifies current applicable national laws and regulations, national guidelines, voluntary programmes and other requirements on which the system will be based.

• The identification of workplace hazards and the assessment and management of risk.

• An initial assessment of your organisation's existing safety management structure (if it exists).

Main elements of the ILO-OSH 2001 system

Fig 1 - Main elements of the ILO-OSH 2001 system

• The setting, assessment and measurement of OSH objectives.

• The development of documented procedures for all work activities, including permit-to-work activities where applicable.

• The development of documented management procedures for all safety management activities (such as management of change, management of contractors, emergency response, accident reporting and investigation, etc).

4 - Evaluation

• How your organisation measures safety performance against pre-defined criteria (safety objectives, industry or national standard statistics, etc) and provides feedback into the system.

• How the OSH system is audited and assessed at all levels.

• The measurement of pro-active reports (that indicate there may be undesirable activities happening in the system, such as near-miss reporting, defect reporting, etc) and re-active reports (that document undesirable activities that have happened, such as accident statistics, incident and accident reports, etc).

• How management periodically reviews the OSH performance of the organisation.

5 - Action for Improvement

• The identification of non-conformities within the OSH system and how these are managed.

• The assessment of all OSH activities and the identification of areas for continual improvement.

These five areas make up the core sections in QUICK WIN SAFETY MANAGEMENT. Cross-references to the relevant sections within the ILO-OSH 2001 Guidelines are indicated in each question thus:

Q4. What is the background to the ILO-OSH 2001 safety management system?

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations (UN) specialised agency, formed in 1919 as a result of the Treaty of Versailles following the end of World War I, with the aim of dealing with labour issues internationally. Its structure is somewhat unusual for a UN agency in that it has a tripartite governing structure, representing governments, employers and workers. Membership consists of nation-states, of which there are currently over 180. The ILO mission and objectives state that: "... the ILO is dedicated to bringing decent work and livelihoods, job-related security and better living standards to the people of both poor and rich countries. It helps to attain those goals by promoting rights at work, encouraging opportunities for decent employment, enhancing social protection and strengthening dialogue on work-related issues".[1]

The motivation for the ILO-OSH 2001 Guidelines is best summarised by the document itself: "7he Guidelines were prepared on the basis of a broad-based approach involving the ILO and its tripartite constituents and other stakeholders. They have also been shaped by internationally agreed occupational safety and health principles as defined in relevant international labour standards. Consequently, they provide a unique and powerful instrument for the development of a sustainable safety culture within enterprises and beyond. Workers, organizations, safety and health systems and the environment all stand to benefit".

Due to its global reach, through its own offices and that of the UN, the ILO has been able to promote its OSH Guidelines internationally, with the aim of providing a foundation within which organisations can develop "coherent policies to protect workers from occupational hazards and risks while improving productivity".[2]

At a business level, the OSH Guidelines are designed to encourage organisations to incorporate safety management into their existing corporate structures as another normal management function and to develop polices and arrangements with the aim of improving OSH performance. If properly implemented, the guidelines provide the means to achieve the now universal legal duty for employers to protect the health and safety of their workers. Thus, the ILO-OSH 2001 Guidelines are a good place to start in developing a SMS.

  • [1] ilo.org/global/About_the_ILO/Mission_and_objectives/ lang--en/index.htm
  • [2] ilo.org/global/What_we_do/Publications/ILOBookstore/Orderonline/ Books/lang-- en/WCMS_PUBL_9221116344_EN/index.htm
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