Pacific Safety – Partners in Workplace Safety – Safety Consultants Vancouver, BC Partners in Workplace Safety

Safety Management System (SMS) Software: What You Need to Know

Date: 21st December 2017

It is a requirement of the WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulations that employers with a workforce of 20 of more workers have a formal occupational health and safety program in place. As long as the program meets the requirements of the regulations it is down to the employer to decide how the program is managed.

Traditionally, management systems have been developed and maintained through a combination of hard copy manuals, forms and records. This system can work perfectly well, and meet all regulatory requirements, it can also however be cumbersome and generate a lot of paperwork. To try and alleviate this, more and more organizations are moving to online solutions for managing their safety management systems.

Online safety Management systems can be used to support the management of every element of an organizations safety program, including:

  • Incident Management
  • Hazard Identification
  • Audits & Inspections
  • Meeting Scheduling
  • Corrective Actions
  • Risk Assessment
  • Document Control
  • Training Records
  • Human Resources Information

Benefits of SMS Software

There are many benefit to switching from a paper based management system to an online solution.

  • Compliance
    • Having one, easily accessible system makes compliance with regulations and standards (ISO 14001, ISO 18001/ISO 45001, COR) more manageable and easier to demonstrate during audits and inspections.
  • Accountability
    • Tasks can be assigned to individual users or teams in the system. This can provide the management team with better visibility of what tasks have been assigned to individuals and the status of those tasks.
  • Traceability
    • Documents can be more easily tracked and monitored throughout their life cycle. This allows for better document control and minimizes the use of obsolete or out of date documents.
  • Reporting Capabilities
    • Having data all in one place, and in electronic form, means reports can be pulled more easily and data doesn’t need to be double handled
  • Record keeping
    • Centrally consolidated information and data in configurable formats makes locating required information quick and easy.
  • Consistency
    • Having forms generated electronically means they all look the same. It also eliminates inconsistencies in handwriting and spelling which can often lead to errors in communication in paper based systems.
  • Accessibility
    • The ability to access the safety management system from any computer, smart phone or tablet improves the usability of the system and allows users the convenience of inputting or accessing information quickly and efficiently. Every jurisdiction has a requirement for providing workers with access to OHS regulation and company programs. Wed-based software can make meeting this requirement easier than providing every employee with a printed manual.

Format Options

There are two options to consider when deciding how best to manage documentation within an SMS software solution. The format best suited to the organization will depend on factors such as complexity of operations and size of the organization. The two formats typically available are:

  • Out of the box Forms
    • This solution provides the user with pre-set templates that can be selected and tweaked to meet the needs of the organization.
  • Custom Forms
    • If the document requirements of the organization are very specific to that organization, and there are no pre-set templates that meet their need, another option is to build new documents from scratch. This allows the user to build a system completely tailored to their organization

It is also an option to use a combination of both formats. Where the majority of the needs of the organization can be met by Out of the Box format there may also be a need to create one custom form for a specific part of the program.

Lessons Learned

Here are a few lessons learned from our consulting work with clients:

  1. Map out the desired process flow of the system, and get agreement on it from stakeholders, before starting to build the system;
  2. Take the time to perform a Needs Assessment;
  3. Have clear roles & responsibilities defined and understand the User management needs;
  4. Limit on the fly changes as they can add complexity, cost, and time delays;
  5. Involve stakeholders in each stage of development by demonstrating changes and incorporating feedback.
  6. Allocate sufficient time to test any new forms/parts of the system before they go live.

If you think your organization could benefit from migrating an SMS software solution, and would like to discuss some options, please contact Pacific Safety at, or call us at 604-278-3512.




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