Safety Management System in a Steel Plant

Safety Management System in a Steel Plant

A safety management system (SMS) is a systematic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures. It is a systematic and explicit approach in the organization defining safety activities by which safety management is undertaken by the organizational management in order to achieve acceptable safety levels. It is a term used to refer to a comprehensive management system designed to manage the safety elements in the work place.

Safety management system is a systematic approach designed to identify safety hazards and risks, control all safety elements and reduce the risks to a more acceptable manner by ensuring that the controls are effective.

Safety manage system can be defined as “a businesslike approach to safety’. It is a systematic, explicit and comprehensive process for managing safety risks. As with all management systems, a safety management system provides a way for setting goals, planning, measuring the performance, control documentation and continues improvement. It becomes part of the culture, the way people do their jobs.

There are three imperatives for adopting a safety management system for the organization. These are ethical, legal and financial. There is an implied moral obligation placed on the management to ensure that the work activities and the place of work is safe. There are defined statutory requirements which are to be met effectively. Safety management system,  since reduces the risks in the work place,  can reduce the financial exposure of the organization by reducing the direct and the indirect costs associated with accident and incidents.

To address these three important elements, an effective safety management system is to include the following.

  • To define the organization which is set up to manage safety risks.
  • To identify the workplace safety risks and implement suitable controls.
  • To implement effective communications across all levels of the organization.
  • To implement a process to identify and correct non conformities.
  • To implement a continual improvement process.

The basic elements of the safety management system are (i) policy, (ii) organizing, (iii) planning and implementation, (iv) evaluation, and (v) action for improvement. The process and workflow for safety management system normally have 15 components namely (i) safety policy and safety organization, (ii) safety work procedures, (iii) safety training, (iv) safety committees and their meetings, (v) investigations and analysis of accidents and incidents, (vi) in house safety rules and regulations, (vii) safety promotion, (viii) control on contractors for implementation of  the requirements of the safety management system, (ix) safety inspections, (x)  control on the safety aspects in the fulfillment of the maintenance regimes of plant, equipment and processes, (xi)  Identification of hazards and hazard analysis, (xii) safe use of hazardous materials, (xiii) implementation of occupational health programs, (xiv) preparedness for emergencies, and (xv) documentation control and management reviews. Documentations also include safety related records.

Benefits of safety management system include (i) it provide a more proactive way of identifying safety hazards, (ii) it improves the statutory compliance, (iii) it addresses safety risks proactively, (iv) it reduces loss of life and injuries though prevention of accidents and incidents, (v) it improves the morale of the employees by engaging them during the planning phase, (vi) it reduces the financial burden of the organization by reducing the direct and the indirect costs associated with accident and incidents.(Fig 1)

benefits of safety management system

Fig 1 Benefits of safety management system

The guidelines of some of the important elements and components of safety management system are given below

Safety policy

Safety policy of the organization is to include (i) a statement which clearly articulates the objectives and goals of the organization and the management commitment to these objectives and goals, (ii) a clear description of duties and responsibilities of employees in promoting safety management system, and (iii) acknowledgement that the employees are an important resource. Safety policy is to be endorsed by the top management and must be publicized, made known, and  understood and accepted by all. It is to be reviewed and revised, if necessary, on a regular basis.

Safe working procedures

For the implementation of the safety management system, the organization is to establish safe working procedures so that all the works are carried out safely and the risks of injury to work men and damage of equipment and property are eliminated or minimized. The procedures are to be established meeting the requirements of the Factories Act as well as meeting the requirements of the work processes. Before writing procedures,  it is essential that proper hazard and risk analysis is carried out. Procedures are to be in easy to understand format and are to be effectively communicated. Work men are to get adequate briefing and training in the work procedures. Work procedures are to be reviewed regularly to ensure their relevance and effectiveness.

Safety training

As part of the safety management system, a comprehensive training program is to be established in the organization for the safety. Safety training is to include (i) safety orientation of new employees, (ii) refresher training, (iii) safety awareness training, (iv) training of managers in auditing and accident investigation, (v) skills and functional safety training, and (vi) briefing and training of contractors. It is essential that the statutory training requirements as per the Factories Act are fulfilled. Training in the safety behavioural aspects of the work men also helps in the safety efforts. Safety  training is to be conducted using appropriate training methods and in a language understood by the trainees.

Safety committees

The organization is to establish central safety committee and departmental safety committees for the purpose of improving, promoting and reviewing all the matters relating to the safety of the employees. Safety committees must have prescribed functions and responsibilities. The composition, functions, and duties of the safety committees are to meet the requirements of the Factories Act. Matters discussed in the safety committees are to minuted adequately and communicated to the all concerned.

Further safety improvement teams in every department consisting of 5 to 8 workmen per team are to be established to work on specific projects for improvement in the work environment and safety of the workmen, equipment and processes. These safety improvement teams are to get support from the management in the form of recognition, incentives and rewards.

Incidents investigation and analysis

As part of the safety management system, the organization must establish procedures for ensuring that all incidents (accidents and near misses) are investigated promptly by responsible persons and effective practical remedial measures are taken to prevent recurrence. The system is to ensure that all the incidents are reported promptly and responsible personnel are informed as soon as possible to facilitate investigation. The investigation is to be carried out with seriousness ,as per the written procedure, and as per the established criteria. The investigation must determine the root causes, circumstances and other contributing factors leading to the incidents. The investigation also recommend measures to prevent recurrence of the incident. The recommendations of the investigations are to be effectively and promptly followed through and implemented. Also the information (including the causes, remedial actions, lesson learnt etc.) is to be shared with all personnel in the work place.

Further all statistics of the incidents must be promptly analyzed to identify major problem areas and appropriate measures are to be taken quickly. Also the trend and statistics are to be used for the planning of safety promotion and safety training programmes.

In-house safety rules and regulations

Under the safety management system, the organization is to establish written safety rules in addition to the statutory requirements that are relevant to the organization. These rules and  regulations inculcate in work men and contractors their roles and responsibilities in safety while performing their work in the work place. The in-house safety rules and regulations are to be effectively communicated  and made readily available to all personnel of the organization including contractors. They are to be endorsed by the top management and are to be enforced taking into confidence the work men representatives. These in house rules and regulations are to be reviewed regularly and revised if necessary.

Safety promotion

The organization is to develop work men to take interest in safety and also to maintain safety awareness amongst the work men to instill a positive  attitude and behaviour towards safety at the work place. Also there is always a need to create a caring safety culture in the organization. Under safety management system, the organizational management is to develop and establish promotional programs that clearly demonstrate the strong commitment of the organization towards providing and maintaining  a safe and healthy work environment. The promotional activities are to be organized at regular intervals. All employees including contractors are to be encouraged to take part in the safety promotional events.

Control on contractors for implementation of  the safety management system

Safety management system is to have at least one procedure for the monitoring the safety related performance of the contractors throughout the contractual period of work. In case of any violations, there need to be some provision for the monitory punishment for which there has to be provision in the contract between the organization and the contractor. All the written contracts with the contractors are to include standard safety related clauses and the safety related responsibilities of the contractors.

Safety inspection

Under safety management system, the organization is to establish an effective program to carry out periodic inspection of the equipment, plant and processes by the competent inspection teams. Corrective actions are to be taken for unsafe/undesirable work practices and conditions. Safety inspections also promotes positive safety attitudes and behaviours amongst the work men. The findings of the inspection are to be recorded  and appropriate recommendations remedial measures are to be suggested. A check list usually assist the inspection team in the inspection. The complete activity related to the inspection is to be properly documented, The check list and the inspection procedure are to be periodically reviewed for their relevance.

Control on the safety aspects in the fulfillment of the maintenance regimes

The organization is to establish an effective and practical maintenance regime for control of safety aspects of the plant, equipment and processes so as to prevent occurrence of accidents because of failure of such plant, equipment and processes. Adequacy of the maintenance regime is to be checked/ approved by the competent person and there is to be close monitoring of the implementation of the maintenance regimes.

Identification of hazards and hazard analysis

The organization is to establish systematic procedures for identification, evaluation and control of hazards in the work place. The process of the identification of hazards and their analysis is to be reviewed whenever there are changes in conditions or any modification of equipment or processes or introduction of new materials. Safe work procedures developed based on earlier hazard analysis are also to be reviewed and revised.

Safe use of hazardous materials

The organization is to establish a system for the identification and management of hazardous substances. This is to be done by establishment of well defined procedures for the receipt, storage, issuance, handling and use of hazardous materials. Appropriate material safety data sheet (MSDS) is to made for each of the hazardous material. Use of personal protective equipment is to be ensured while handling hazardous materials. Hazardous materials are to be stored only in the designated storage area. There is also a need of keeping proper records of all the hazardous materials being used. Work men handling hazardous materials are to be properly trained in all the procedures related to the hazardous materials.

Implementation of occupational health programs

Through safety management system, the organization protects all personnel from the occupational diseases and illness through the identification , evaluation and control of health hazards present in the work place. The organization identifies potential occupational health hazards related to the work activities, processes  and chemical used or produced in the processes. Based on identification, the organization develops relevant occupational health programs. In these health programs,  the responsibilities of all individuals, ranging from workmen to management, pertaining to the implementation of the health program are to be clearly defined. Also regular periodic health checks of the employees working in the hazardous area are to be carried out.

Preparedness for emergencies

For implementation of the safety management system, the organization establishes a written response plan to mitigate the consequences arising from a potential emergency situations and to familiarize employees with the response procedures in the event of an emergency. The emergency procedures are to (i) identify emergency situations and assess their impacts, (ii) implement the emergency response plan at each level of the organization, with clear scope, roles and responsibilities, and (iii) maintain and update an emergency response plan. Employees are to be trained in the emergency procedures and regular mock drills are to be conducted to ensure that employees always remains in touch with the emergency response measures. Records of mock drills also provide management opportunity to correct the deficiency , if any, in the emergency response plan.

Documentation control and management reviews

Documents play a very effective role in any management system and this is also true for the safety management system. Document control facilitates easy and effective retrieval of the relevant documents and also enhances the effectiveness of the process of the management review of the systems. Document control procedure establishes methodology for the issuance, maintenance, revision, and distribution of the documents. It also ensures that employees do not refer to any unauthorized document which is not approved. Document control procedure usually applies to all procedures, records, checklists, and all other documents related to the safety management system. It helps in removing and destruction of old obsolete documents.

Regular management reviews are necessary for the management to get confidence that the safety management system is effective and serving its purpose.

Besides the above elements of the safety management system, regular system audit is necessary to ensure that the safety management system is functioning well within the organization. Frequently this audit is to be done by an external agency to ensure effectiveness of the audits. During the audits, there may be some non conformities found which are to be closed by suitable corrective actions. Often closing of the non conformities may need revisions of certain procedures.

Finally implementation of the safety management system should lead to the continual improvement in the safety performance of the organization.

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