In today's heavily regulated and safety conscious business environment, audits from organisations we want to do business with are common place. Without adequate preparation these audits can be a harrowing experience, and a poor result can spell the end of a lucrative contract. The key to a smooth audit process is to have all the evidence on hand to prove a robust, well implemented safety management system.
There are two things an auditor will look for to determine the maturity of your SMS; the system framework, and your organisation's safety culture, which is a measure of SMS implementation. The system framework consists of manuals, policies and procedures required to meet regulatory guidelines as well as international standards. Any organisation that has gone through certification of their management system will have a well developed framework, which is usually phase one of the certification program. During my auditing career the most common misconception I came across was that a suite of well written manuals purchased from a safety consultant constituted a good SMS. That's the easy bit. It's the safety culture you can't buy.
To progress to the next phase you must show that the SMS is a living, breathing organism and not just a bunch of documents sitting on the shelf. A good safety culture can't be created by the safety department alone, and it certainly can't be purchased from a safety consultant. It's a journey every member of the organisation commits to, and it is something that can be measured and benchmarked. The safety framework provides the instructions and the tools for everyone to follow. Great safety leadership is needed to ensure everyone follows the framework and knows exactly what is expected of them. Accountability is a key ingredient in any successful SMS and can be measured by examining the records created by staff within the organisation. Occurrence reports, risk assessments, investigations, audits and inspections, meetings, training and safety initiatives are all records that can show a strong commitment to the SMS and an active participation by everyone. This is the evidence a good auditor will look for to determine the strength of your safety culture, and ultimately the success of the SMS.
SERA provides the framework to support a SMS that is compliant with international standards and regulatory requirements. SERA also provides the functionality to store evidence to show how effective the system is being used by everyone. Wagners is one of ASM's valued customers and has been effectively using SERA for five years. This week they underwent an audit by a "Top 5" mining company as part of a pre contract requirement. The feedback from the auditor was that Wagner's SMS was one of the best he had ever seen. He also commented that it was the first audit he had completed where every piece of evidence needed to confirm SMS effectiveness was available in one system; SERA.
Congratulations to Wagners on an excellent achievement.