Safety Management Systems


Not all safety management systems are created equal.  Many organizations advertise that they have created their own version of a safety program.  While some of these may be excellent programs our safety future lies in following the standards developed by our experts.

Why now?  Today’s customer is savvy about our impact on the environment and how we care for our employees.  Many of these clients now require our organizations to adhere to compliance audits before agreeing to work with us.  These audits look for gaps in our social responsibility.  These customers want to know if we provide a quality safe product or service.

On the horizon we see that safety programs will be required to be accredited by a certifying body.  The future of Safety will be to employee occupational health and safety management systems as published by the International Standards Organization and or The American National Standards Organizations.

The following steps are designed for senior leadership seeking to implement a standard that may be certified and robust enough to reduce workplace injuries.  These steps are an overview and greater detail is available upon request.

  1.  Pick a recognized accredited safety system.  ISO 45001 or ANSI Z10 are two exceptional systems that are considered the Gold standard in the safety world.   Both of these systems employ the lean principals of Plan, Do, Check, Act as a methodology to assess, implement and recheck to ensure your plan is working.  These systems unite and commit leadership to implement a safe work environment.  They both require an engaged work force, that is more than the monthly safety committee meeting.  These systems have an engineering component or management of change process that ensure that change or new equipment/processes are vetted for safety.
  2.  Have a communication system.  Have a visual communication system.  Everyone needs to be empowered to speak up in their work environment.  Employee concerns that are forgotten or ignored lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction in the workplace.  Over time, employees will not report or even “fix” a hazard when it is recognized.  A robust communication system invites all employees to engage in decision making from the floor to the board room and back to the floor.  Obeya systems are an excellent tool to immediately recognize and adjust issues in real time.  They are an excellent visual tool the help the feedback loop close by informing all parties.
  3. Stop the “fire fighting” EHS professionals are often pulled several directions at once.  Fix this, investigate that style of management.  EHS professionals with a plan, engaged leadership and participating employees have a team approach to solving an organizations process improvements.  Start with the Gap analysis, what are the gaps in your system?  How will you set your plan of implementation? How will all employees be measured in their participation?  Set a written plan, SMART goals for all and track it monthly-visually.
  4. Coach, coach, coach.  EHS professional are the organization’s coach.   They set the vision, educate the resources and provide the tools for the leaders to carry on.  Leaders are the best source to sustain the occupational health and safety management system.  It is this talent that brings expertise to the details of the department activities with safe expectations.

Valerie Waterland, MS, ARM, MBB is a master blackbelt in Lean Six Sigma and a certified ISO 45001 professional.  She has been working with organizations for over 25 years to employee gold standard practices that reduce workplace injuries.  For more information