Health & Safety Management System: Review Guide

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns


01 Feb 2019


Having a competently-written, clear and concise safety management system (SMS) can mean the difference between a safe workplace and a hazardous one.

If you aren’t in the habit of reviewing and revising your policies and documentation now, it’s one you should pick up.

Why not start by reviewing your health & safety management system? Or, if you don’t have one in place already, draft one today.

Let’s begin with the basics.

What is a safety management system?

You typically put management systems in place to organise complicated processes.

In the case of a SMS, it should focus on encouraging and improving safety in the workplace, taking all processes and condensing them into a system that promotes effective risk-based decision making.

There are a few key processes you should recognise in your SMS:

  • Risk Management: Standard for assessing your workplace’s risks and risk controls, such as fire risks
  • Health & Safety Performance: Analyses whether you’ve achieved your company’s goals.
  • Identifying Hazards: Does what it says on the tin—recognises significant hazards within your organisation.
  • Incident Reporting: When an accident occurs, ensures you are reporting it effectively, efficiently, and with the correct amount of detail.
  • Safety Assurance: Finally, helps ensure your company maintains a high standard of health & safety, and continuously improves safety management.

SMS should always build on existing processes, not serve as a substitute for them.

Your system should be proactive rather than reactive, focusing primarily on hazards.

How do I implement an SMS?

Prior to implementing a new safety management system, you should conduct a full review of all health & safety policies and procedures.

This review should check that you’re compliant, and that you’re following best practice for your industry.

Once that is complete, set objectives and targets that you want to hit. Measure these targets against key performance indicators.

Good indicators include:

  • Carrying out a certain amount of planned risk assessments.
  • Maintenance of equipment critical for health & safety best practice.
  • Overall level of implementation of the SMS.

You should also set yourself questions to ask on a periodic basis as a method of measuring success. Such questions include:

  • When did we last review the SMS?
  • Do we comment on health & safety performance in our annual review?
  • Should we reward exceptional performance in health & safety?
  • Do we carry out audits regularly?
  • How do we learn from our mistakes?

Once you have these targets and questions in place, you can work on integrating them in conjunction with your current processes.

If there are any sticking points, ask yourself how you could alter processes to fit with your organisation’s goals.

How will a SMS benefit my business?

Aside from the obvious benefit of improving overall health & safety, SMS provides a number of benefits:

  1. Improved decision making.
  2. Reduced accidents.
  3. Better resource allocation.
  4. Increased efficiency of workforce.
  5. Reduced costs on health & safety.
  6. Strengthens corporate culture.
  7. Helps demonstrate compliance.

Are there any standard frameworks?

If you’d like to create a safety management system, but aren’t sure where to start, there are both international and UK safety management standards.

The main two you should be aware of are:

HSG 65, and, ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health & safety management systems – requirements with guidance for use.

Need assistance with health & safety management?

If you’d like to implement a new safety management system, want to update your new one, or have an issue you’d like guidance on, contact a Croner expert today for support and assurance on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns has practical experience in Health & Safety and Risk Management having worked for major insurer prior to joining Croner.

She has gained extensive helpline experience offering competent advice and timely support to large number of clients, in various industries and at all levels.  Completed the NEBOSH General Certificate, also passed NEBOSH Environmental Diploma Unit A, (IOSH Managing Environmental responsibilities). NEBOSH Fire and Risk Management Certificate, FPRA Advance Fire Training, NCRQ Diploma – Distinction currently completing IPD and volunteering for Community project in Atherstone also as a Dementia support worker with CWPT.


Fiona Burns

Free to Download Employer Resources

  • Epilepsy in the Workplace: a 10 Step Guide


    Epilepsy in the Workplace: a 10 Step ...

    Read more
  • How to make reasonable adjustments for mental health in the workplace


    How to make reasonable adjustments fo...

    Read more
  • Sample Health & Safety Communication and Consultation Policy


    Sample Health & Safety Communication ...

    Download Croner's sample health & safety communication and consultation policy, here.

    Read more
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Guide


    Corporate Social Responsibility Guide

    Gone are the days when the only focus for businesses was their profit margin. No...

    Read more
  • Written Warnings Guide


    Written Warnings Guide

    Knowing when you need to issue a written warning to a staff member is tricky. It...

    Read more
  • Work Uniforms: Employer's Guide


    Work Uniforms: Employer's Guide

    There are many reasons to implement a dress code at work. You may need to do it ...

    Read more
  • Solicitors Benevolent Association


    Solicitors Benevolent Association

    “The reason for using Croner was the high-profile track record and the credibili

    Read more
  • John Taylor Hospice


    John Taylor Hospice

    “A large number of the queries are around employment law and rights in areas suc

    Read more
  • Motorsport Industry Association


    Motorsport Industry Association

    “I’m so happy with the service Croner provide, I’d be hard pressed to find a fau

    Read more

Ready to focus on what you do best?

Get your free consultation and speak to an expert today.