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What Is the Role of Safety Management Systems?

Most of us can agree that job safety is a significant concern, no matter where we work. Obviously, we spend a significant amount of our time in the workplace, so we should feel that our employers are making safety and security a top priority. It is in a company’s best interest to ensure their employees’ occupational health and safety because injuries and illnesses on the job can significantly hinder staff productivity and, in turn, reduce profitability.

For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to rapidly create and implement new safety procedures and protocol according to constantly evolving knowledge surrounding the novel coronavirus. Failure to aggressively mitigate the risk of workplace viral outbreaks in situations like the pandemic can threaten the well-being and survival of employees and businesses alike.

According to the National Safety Council, preventable workplace injuries cost the nation, employers and individuals nearly $164 billion in 2020. Further, the Integrated Benefits Institute estimates that the cost to employers for workers who were absent due to COVID-19 totaled $78.4 billion during the first 22 months of the pandemic. Clearly, managing safety and risk is a vital part of modern business. One of the best ways for businesses to stem workplace accidents and ensure employee health and productivity is by incorporating effective safety management systems.

What Is a Safety Management System?

A safety management system is a series of policies and procedures organizations use to reduce accidents and illnesses among employees. But, as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) notes, the positive impacts of effective safety and health programs are much broader, from improving compliance and reducing costs to engaging workers and increasing productivity.

The successful adoption of a safety management system relies a great deal on the level of commitment from both management and employees, as well as an adequate commitment of resources to design and enforce the system. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a safety management system is an organization-wide, structured process that “obligates organizations to manage safety with the same level of priority that other core business processes are managed.”

While each safety management system is unique, key components usually include hazard assessment, inspections, incident reporting systems, worker training and performance measuring tools. OSHA emphasizes that the key to safety and health program success is worker participation, involving every level of the organization. Instilling a safety culture reduces accidents for workers and improves the bottom line for managers.

Workers’ commitment to an organization’s culture of health and safety and the adoption of an effective safety management system can be important issues for any company. These safety processes have often been used in what are considered high-risk industries, such as the maritime and train transportation industries as well as, most notably, in aviation. Moving massive numbers of people daily, transportation companies work under an added imperative to reduce accidents and ensure safety.

Yet, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies of all types in every industry can be impacted by health and safety issues in dramatic ways. The pandemic inarguably upended traditional safety and health program practices, necessitating new approaches and reshaping the future of safety management. The study and practice of safety management is becoming an essential facet of fostering business resilience across sectors.

Learn More About Safety Management Systems

Constantly evolving federal policies and laws make occupational health and safety increasingly important for every organization. Anyone hoping to work in corporate leadership should familiarize themselves with the development and implementation of safety management systems. Recognizing this growing importance of workplace safety, Southeastern Oklahoma State University offers an online Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Safety.

Coursework in this MBA concentration delves into safety program management, occupational safety statistics, crisis preparedness, workplace legal liability and workers compensation. These studies can prepare you for leadership roles in safety program management, helping you develop the expertise needed to institute safety best practices and implement effective safety protocols for organizations in any industry.

Learn more about the Southeastern Oklahoma State University online MBA with a Concentration in Safety.

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