Step 4 - Management commitment and documentation
A visible and demonstrated commitment to safety by management always underpins an effective SMS and positive safety culture. It illustrates to all staff, customers and third parties how seriously safety is taken by your business and should be reflected in the way the organisation operates on a day-to-day basis.
Whilst most parties in the heavy vehicle Chain of Responsibility take safety seriously and have good safety risk controls in place, many companies do not take the extra step of actually documenting them.
All key functions of your SMS, including key risk controls, should be documented to help lock in and reinforce critical safety processes, to educate and train staff, formally record incidents and other safety information, assist the executive in meeting their HVNL due diligence requirements, and should it be required – help demonstrate that you are effectively managing your heavy vehicle safety risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Developing a Safety Policy is a good way to demonstrate and explain the importance and commitment that management places on safety for employees and others that interact with the business.
The Management Commitment and Responsibilities - Quick Guide provides information on what you should consider including in a safety policy. It describes how to set clear direction from management around its commitment to safety and what it will do to help fulfil that commitment. It also describes the importance of defining the roles and responsibilities for managing safety risks, and how to best engage and empower employees who are often tasked with implementing safety critical tasks.
You can utilise and adapt the Safety Policy and Responsibilities - Template within your own SMS. It sets out a wide choice of safety policy aspects that management could commit to, along with a choice of probable or potential safety responsibilities for executives, management, employees and third parties, dependent on the size, complexity, and nature of your business. You can just delete, add to, or modify the policy and responsibility points within the template to suit. The Safety Policy and Responsibilities - Worked example utilises the template and shows what a safety policy could look like.
At this point of your journey, you should primarily focus on formally documenting the key products recommended to be developed and populated so far (such as a Risk Register, an Incident Reporting form, or a Safety Policy) and any other products suggested in the remaining "Starting Out" steps. Don’t be afraid to copy and utilise any of the provided templates within the 9 Step SMS Roadmap and adapt them to suit your own business if desired.
Regardless of the size or complexity of a business, it is important to have a visible Safety Policy and formally documented responsibilities that are communicated and understood across the business.
Consider printing and framing the organisation’s Safety Policy and placing it in several prominent positions in the workplace. This demonstrates to staff and third parties that safety is a high priority within the business, with management committed to it via provision of resourcing, training, systems, and equipment.
Once you have documented and populated all of the SMS products recommended within the 9 Step SMS Roadmap so far (such as Risk Assessments and Hazard Reporting forms), it is important to progress formalisation of your safety risk controls.
Documented procedures that explain the safety process and related risk controls in more detail support employees in meeting their safety responsibilities when performing specific tasks. These procedures help reduce the likelihood of safety incidents occurring by documenting how specific tasks can be performed safely in a step-by-step fashion. They are also vital in helping train and educate new staff to correctly perform those tasks.
The Developing Procedures - Quick Guide describes the best way to document a safety task and what should be included within a procedure.
A good way to start developing a procedure is to work with staff to write down the steps that are already being performed to complete a task. Including images in a documented procedure may also be useful to help staff understand key steps. Check the procedure by observing employees undertaking the task to ensure that all the steps are included and are followed.
It is important that the procedure describes the purpose of the steps and how they control the safety risks. Make sure that employees know where to find the relevant procedures for their tasks, are trained in the procedure, and have the competency to perform the steps.
You can utilise the Procedures - Template to document any number of procedures within your own business, as part of your wider SMS.
SMS related procedures can come in all sizes and complexity however this Procedures - Worked example utilising the template provides a useful reference if required.
Whether you have recently developed a Safety Policy or plan to review the current version, genuinely engaging staff in the process really demonstrates to them that management is interested in their views and opinions, particularly in keeping them safe. Ensure your review processes brings staff or their representatives on early allowing them time to seek colleagues’ feedback where needed.
You should also regularly raise your Safety Policy and Responsibilities document (and its important contents and intent) with staff. This again helps reinforce management commitment and sets a safe platform for staff to raise safety issues or possible improvement solutions. The Our Safety Policy - Toolbox Talk is an easy mechanism for managers and supervisors to use to discuss the Safety Policy in this way.
Once you believe you have formally documented all of your SMS procedures, forms, templates, and other products, consider combining them all safely in an easy to access SMS Manual. This will ensure that all documents are in a single place, either in hard copy or electronically. Most importantly, you want your SMS, or vital components at least to be accessible for easy use by staff. Seeking regular feedback from staff on how user-friendly they think different documented components of the SMS are will also provide valuable feedback on the system’s usability.