The first element of any safety management system standard requires that a company (i.e. a business, a corporation, an enterprise, an organization), establish, document, implement, and continually improve their occupational health and safety management system and demonstrate that they meet all the requirements of the standard. Top management in the company starts the process by defining the scope of the management system; that is, identify the boundaries to which the safety management system applies. This will take into account the company’s activities relative to products, services, departments, facilities, or multiple plant locations.

safety management system

A safety management system is designed with the intent to serve as a framework for an organization, as a minimum, to meet its legal occupational safety and health obligations.  Furthermore, a world class safety management system provides evidence of continuous improvement. A business that embraces a safety management system will have a story to tell and this includes the simple General Requirements element as well through its review and revision table of comments.

Within a safety management system, all parts are interrelated and affect each other. All elements are related to all other elements of the system. A flaw in one element will most likely impact all the other elements, and therefore the quality of the system as a whole.

This article will focus on how to write an effective General Requirement procedure for any organization that desires to obtain a safety management system.


The organization must prepare an effective occupational safety policy that provides a clear direction for the organization to follow in order to improve worker safety.  Once written, the safety policy will contribute to all other aspects of conducting day to day business within the organization.  The policy should provide a commitment to continuous improvement along with compliance to jurisdictional occupational safety and health law.  Defining expectations of customers’, stakeholders, employees and contractors should also be documented within the policy.

Below are some other topics to consider on the type of information to document in the General Requirement element of an safety management system:

  • The company name, address and a brief introduction of what the company does and its processes.
  • Average number of employees, total number of management staff and an organizational chart.
  • A facility map identifying production facility departments, out -buildings, office locations, marshalling areas (assembly area for emergency response), perimeter of the plant location.
  • A description of the safety management system standard the company is adhering to.
  • safety management system scope (define what is included as well as what is not):
  • Include:Activities and operations taking place on facility property (inside the perimeter fence)
  • Exclude:Secondary transportation of supplies and products, OSHA, health and safety regulations and transportation of employees and visitors.

In conclusion, the General Requirements element is often times the least interesting and less time consuming effort that an organization will put forth an effort into.However, having a lack of interest can result in disastrous results for an safety management system seeking third party recognition. This is especially true in the scope section of the procedure.  When not clearly defined, the scope can lead into interpretation of an auditor on what they deem should be or not be in the scope. Make sure your expectations are clearly outlined and described in this element to avoid confusion by anyone who reviews it.