Continuous improvement of your SMS

Measuring the effectiveness of your safety objectives is important.

Reviewing your Safety Management System (SMS) requires you to look at all parts to make sure they are still relevant and applicable. You must outline how you are going to review each element of your SMS manual, including:

  • safety policy and objectives
  • safety risk management
  • safety assurance
  • safety promotion.

The S.M.A.R.T principle

An effective way to measure and review your safety objectives is using the S.M.A.R.T principle. Set objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and within set timeframes.

The S.M.A.R.T. approach allows you to identify and improve areas where your SMS is not as effective.

Smaller organisations

Smaller organisations should review their SMS at least once a year to ensure that:

  • the SMS continues to meet its core safety objectives
  • monitor safety performance against objectives
  • address identified hazards in a timely and appropriate manner.

A practical way for small organisations to maintain a focus on improvement is to network with other organisations and share information and tactics that work.

Larger organisations

For larger organisations, a safety committee conducts more formal periodic reviews. For example:

  • Reporting on the effectiveness of management of change activities and issues
  • Reporting on safety training performance
  • Evaluation of facilities, equipment, documentation and procedures through safety audits and surveys
  • Continued tracking of safety culture change or maturity level.

Key points to consider when maintaining and improving your SMS include:

  • Establish an SMS that includes policies, rules, directives and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  • Management should work continuously towards revising the current processes, in response to changing needs, operational environment, or standards.
  • Make demonstrated efforts towards ensuring that everybody follows SOPs (employ a combination of discipline and human resource development measures).
  • Formal management reviews of the SMS should occur on a regular basis.
  • The safety committee should conduct regular high-level reviews of SMS processes.
  • Safety reviews validate the SMS. This confirms that people are following processes and their collective efforts have achieved the organisation's safety objectives and targets.
  • Use our SMS Evaluation Tool and Guidance Form 1591¬†for a pathway to evolve your SMS as your safety management practices mature.
Last updated:
4 Jan 2022
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