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Course 716 - Safety Management System Evaluation

Safety Management System Basics


A "system" may be thought of as an orderly arrangement of interdependent activities and related procedures which implement and facilitate the performance of a major activity within an organization. (American Society of Safety Engineers, Dictionary of Terms)


Take a look at Syssie, the cow. Syssie is a system, right? You can tell she's a cow because she looks like one: she has "structure." She needs food, air, water, a suitable environment, tender loving care, and other "inputs" to function properly. We know she has respiratory, digestion, circulation, and many other "processes" inside. Finally, she produces outputs like milk, waste products, and behavior.

Just like Syssie, all organizational systems are composed of the same four basic components:

  1. S tructure
  2. I Inputs
  3. P Processes
  4. O Outputs

If a system does not have adequate structure, inputs, or processes, the outputs will not be those desired. Let's take a closer look at these components as they relate to the safety management system.

Safety Management Systems Structure


The structure of an SMS can take many forms. All safety management systems function within and support the company's operations system. Remember safety managers and staff exist to help (assist) the line organization, not control it. Safety people are consultants, not cops!

We'll discuss a simple structure that includes four basic positions; safety manager, safety engineer, human resources coordinator, and the safety committee. Actually, there's really no one-fits-all structure. In a small company, one person may fulfill duties in each of the four positions. In larger companies, each position may be filled by an individual.

Safety in an Organization

It's important to understand where the safety function "fits" in an organization. Some organizations make the "mistake" of thinking safety is primarily a human resource function: It's not. Although HR is an important part of the SMS, it's not the center or hub of the system. Safety is a primary function of operations. It relates directly to the quality of the production/service process within the organization. Therefore, the system usually works best when the safety manager reports to the top operational decision-maker. With this in mind, let's discuss each of these positions.

Kevin Burns - Make Your Safety Job Redundant

Safety Manager (SM)

The safety manager has overall responsibility for the SMS, but primarily focuses on the physical safety and health of employees through the use of administrative controls to limit exposure to hazards. This position most effectively reports to the head of operations. In larger companies, the safety manager is usually the in-house subject matter expert on mandated OSHA programs. Also, this person will be the primary consultant to the employer on safety-related matters. He or she will also help the safety committee as a consultant. It's usually best if the safety manager is a consultant to, but not a member of, the safety committee. When the safety manager is also a safety committee member, he or she usually winds up filling the chairperson position, and does "all the work."

Typical programs and duties of the SM include:


  • Safety Training Program
  • Incident/Accident Analysis Program
  • All mandated OSHA programs - confined space, hazard communications, etc.
  • Job Hazard Analysis


  • Manages all areas of the SMS
  • Conducts inspections and audits
  • Ensures compliance with all mandated OSHA programs
  • Consults with the Safety committee, safety engineer, and human resources coordinator
  • Conducts research, analysis and evaluation to improve the SMS

Safety in an Organization (Continued)


Safety Engineer (SE)

The first question to ask when a hazard is identified in the workplace is, "How can we engineer the hazard out"? The safety engineer usually works in the maintenance or engineering department and is interested in using engineering controls to eliminate or reduce hazards. Consequently, the safety engineer needs additional training in "engineering" topics such as machine guarding, electrical safety and lockout/tagout (See other OSHA Workshops and OSHA Training Institute Region X for more course info).

Examples of programs and duties the safety engineer may be responsible for include:


  • Lockout/Tagout
  • Electrical Safety
  • Walking-Working Surfaces
  • Machine Guarding


  • Conducts inspections and audits
  • Ensures safety consideration in purchase of tools, equipment, machinery
  • Consults with the Safety manager and committee
  • Conducts research, analysis and evaluation to improve safety in the workplace

Safety in an Organization (Continued)


Human Resource Coordinator (HR)

This position is primarily interested in the quality of programs that affect the psychological health of employees. Depending on what works best, this person may or may not be a member of the safety committee.

Safety- and health-related human resource programs may include:


  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Drug Free Workplace (DFW)
  • Early-Return-To-Work (ERTW - Light Duty)
  • Workplace Violence Prevention Program (WVPP)
  • Incentives and Recognition Program
  • Claims management
  • Accountability Program
  • New employee orientation


  • Conducts audits of safety- and health-related HR programs
  • Designs and implements incentive and recognition programs
  • Maintains safety and health records
  • Conducts disciplinary actions
  • Conducts training on HR-related programs
  • Consults with the safety committee on HR-related issues

Safety in an Organization (Continued)


Safety Committee (SC)

In some states employers are required to have a safety committee. Even when safety committees are not required, it's smart business to have one. This in-house consultant team acts as the "eyes and ears," for the SM by collecting data. The committee helps the SM identify, analyze, and evaluate the design and performance of the SMS. The SC provides data to the safety manager, safety engineer and human resource coordinator. The committee usually submits recommendations and reports to the safety manager.


  • Incident/Accident Analysis Program
  • Accountability System
  • Safety Inspection Program


  • Conducts safety inspections
  • Evaluate the accountability system
  • Develop incident and accident procedures
  • Ensure effective reporting of concerns
  • Observe conditions and behaviors
  • Conduct surveys and interviews
All systems behave.

All Systems Behave

Remember Syssie? Well, just like Syssie the cow, the SMS behaves in a way that is unique to each organization. The behaviors occur as individual actions and SMS processes, each with a number of unique set of activities and procedures. A system performance evaluation looks at how well these actions and processes are working. The primary SMS activities and processes include the following:

  • Commitment - leading, following, managing, planning, funding
  • Accountability - role, responsibility, discipline
  • Involvement - safety committees, suggestions, recognizing/rewarding
  • Identification - inspections, observation, surveys, interviews
  • Analysis - incidents, accidents, tasks, programs, system
  • Controls - engineering, management, PPE, interim measures, maintenance
  • Education - orientation, instruction, training, personal experience
  • Evaluation - judging effectiveness of conditions, behaviors, systems, results
  • Improvement - change management, design, implementation

All Systems Produce Outputs

If the system provides quality inputs and effectively performs activities and procedures, the outputs (effects) are likely to be those desired and intended. Remember, quality in likely means quality out. Short-term results are usually specific observable-measurable conditions and behaviors. Long-term outcomes are not so easy to see and effect the entire organization.

  • Safe/Unsafe conditions, behaviors - results
  • Many/Few incidents and accidents - results
  • High/Low accident costs - outcomes
  • High/Low productivity, morale, trust - outcomes

What does this principle mean?

Every system is designed perfectly to produce what it produces.


You know, every organization has a safety management system. In fact, you cannot NOT have a safety management system. Any system, whether it's Syssie the cow, or a complex safety management system can get sick if it's not designed properly and deployed effectively. Just like Syssie, your safety management system will produce only what it is designed to produce. It can't produce anything else. If your safety management system results in symptoms like poor employee safety performance and high accident rates, it's because the safety management system has been, you guessed it, perfectly designed to produce those results.

Bottom line idea: If you properly design the safety management system, the symptoms will not arise!

Last Words

Well, that's a lot of information. It's critical to understand these basic concepts before moving on to discuss the analysis and evaluation process. Now it's time to take the review quiz.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. A _____ may be thought of as an orderly arrangement of activities and related procedures which implement and facilitate the performance of a major activity within an organization.

2. Activities and procedures in a system are _____.

3. Which of the following is not one of the four basic components of all systems?

4. The safety and health management system structure discussed all of the following positions, except _____.

5. This person is primarily interested in maintaining the physical safety and health of employees by reducing exposure to hazards through the use of management controls.

6. The machine guarding program would be most likely of primary interest to the _____?

7. Inspecting hazards in the workplace is considered one of the many SHMS _____.

8. To determine the "effects" of the SHMS, an evaluator is most likely to look at this component of the system.

9. Which of the following most directly describes an effect of a flawed SHMS?

10. The SHMS is likely to be more effective when the safety manager reports to _____.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.

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