Creating a safe work environment is a goal across all industries, and implementing a safety management system is an important step in fostering a culture of workplace safety. Adopting Safety Management Systems (SMS) can not only reduce injuries and manage industry legal requirements, but also cut safety-related costs and improve organizational performance.

Trip Hazard SignIt is well documented that safety management systems have the potential to improve health and safety performance. A 2013 study of major South Korean construction companies over five years showed that companies that implemented an SMS had an average decrease of 67% in accident rates, and 10% in fatal accident rates[1]. Higher safety leads to lower medical and legal costs, as well as improved company reputation.

And it isn’t just large enterprises that see these benefits- one survey investigating small companies showed that adopters of safety management systems average 46% fewer incidents per year compared to non-adopters[2]. In the same study, those using SMS saw unexpected benefits in perceived business performance. Safety Management System adopters reported larger market shares and higher quality of product delivered. Self-reports of better business performance are strongly tied to workplace satisfaction- a safer workplace feels better about their business, which makes for happier employees.

Implementing a safety management program is a useful tool towards a safer workplace, and safety managers have to be dedicated to this program to see results. In the U.S., OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) develops employers by working closely to improve their safety management systems, and employers that participate in VPP see safety improvements from the first day. VPP-certified companies are 52% below the national average in number of incidents that result in lost days or job transfer due to worker injury[3].

Regardless of safety management methods, the most important factor in creating a safer workplace is how dedicated employees are to improving safety. Implementing an SMS creates a platform for safety involvement and the easier it is for employees to get involved in safety, the more likely they are to show dedication to creating a safer work environment.