What is a safety management system?

On 31 March 2022, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws replaced the health and safety elements of the Mines Safety and Inspection laws. For information visit www.demirs.wa.gov.au/whs

WHS laws require mine operators to establish and implement a mine safety management system (MSMS). For more information see the mine safety management system code of practice.

All health and safety notifications, forms and guidance for mining and petroleum has moved to the WorkSafe website

What is a safety management system?

A safety management system (SMS) for a mine is a tool that assists mine operators to systematically achieve and maintain standards for managing safety and health. It brings together the policies and procedures required to effectively mitigate (i.e. lessen the severity) the risks associated with the mining operations.

Why is an SMS important?

An SMS allows the mine operator to demonstrate the effective management of health and safety on site to:

  • employees, contractors and others working at the mine site
  • the regulator
  • an external organisation when seeking certification
  • management when assessing the mine systems against recognised industry standards.

To maximise its effectiveness, the SMS needs to be:

  • a documented system
  • be easily understood
  • accessible.

The risks managed at all mining operations are dynamic and varied. The SMS is used to ensure these risks are considered and strategies are documented so adequate controls are implemented for the life of the mine.

While all mines have safety- and risk-related policies, plans and procedures in place, the SMS ties these elements in a single integrated system.

Components of an SMS

Systematic approach

Australian Standard AS 4804 Occupational health and safety management systems - General guidelines on principles, systems and supporting techniques describes a systematic approach that can assist mines to both meet the minimum regulatory requirements and lead to sustained improvement in safety and risk management  performance.

The guidelines can assist an organisation to establish its own SMS or improve an existing SMS. They do not prescribe the type, format or style of SMS that should be used, and are aimed at a mine of any size or type.

AS 4804 Occupational health and safety management systems - General guidelines on principles, systems and supporting techniques is available from Standards Australia.

Key elements to consider

Some key elements of a mining SMS that may be included are listed below.

  • Management framework
    • health and safety systems framework
    • sustainability
    • corporate policies
  • Leadership and accountability
    • roles and accountabilities
    • procedural requirements
    • statutory appointments and positions
  • Planning and performance
    • health and safety objectives and targets
    • performance measurement
    • monitoring and review
  • Implementation
    • licenses and permits
    • document and record control
  • Compliance and document control
    • maintaining documents such as standard operating procedures (SOPs), safe work instructions (SWIs) or safe work method statements (SWMSs)
  • Operational risk management
    • safety in design
    • change management
    • risk assessment tools
    • workplace inspections
  • Communication and consultation
    • safety and health communication
    • safety and health committees
  • Behavioral safety, awareness and competence
    • training plan and matrix
    • fitness for work
    • inductions
  • Systems of work
    • SOP, SWI or SWMS development and use
    • Job safety analysis (JSA) or job hazard analysis (JHA)
    • contractor management
  •  Incident investigation
    • incident reporting
    • investigation tools
    • corrective action management
  • Emergency management
    • emergency response plan
    • injury management
    • crisis management
  • Quality assurance, measurement and evaluation
    • audit criteria