Within a Safety Management System , a procedure is required for describing how an organization will ensure that documents are appropriately created, reviewed, revised, controlled, maintained, retained and disposed of.  This procedure will ensure that the organization has documented the system in either an electronic or paper format.  It is important that documentation, at a minimum includes policy, objectives and targets, scope of the Safety Management System , monitoring and measurement, management review, to name only a few.

Safety Management system

Documentation must be provided such that enough is available to ensure the effective planning, operation, and control of processes related to the significant aspects, and to demonstrate conformance to the Safety Management System elements; either third party certification or corporate mandate.


The document control procedure covers all controlled documents within the Safety Management System .  The functions outlined in this procedure are applicable to individuals designated as responsible for document control within Safety Management System . In the event of an absence of personnel assigned to perform system, document, or other required reviews and revisions, the organization should identify a back-up person who will perform such duties as required.  Cross training personnel for these tasks is a necessity to ensure sustainability of document control.

These are some of the major sections of a document control procedure to initially approved and re-approved documents after any revisions; these approvals must be documented.  Documents shall be:

  • Readily identifiable, locatable, and accessible at the point of use to appropriate personnel having job responsibilities to which they relate.
  • Legible, dated (with dates of revision), and properly protected from damage.
  • Maintained in an orderly manner in the Safety Management System according to corporate procedure.
  • Controlled documents will be reviewed at least annually, or more often if necessary, for applicability and accuracy, and when needed revised.  Review dates will be noted.
  • Suitably identified and secured when designated as confidential (e.g., attorney/client privileged documents).  Documents designated as confidential or attorney/client privileged will not be uploaded into the Safety Management System , but will be maintained onsite in a secure location located in xxxxxx.

It is important to ensure that all controlled documents are designated as such. Hard copy controlled documents will be stamped “CONTROLLED COPY” or “CONTROLLED DOCUMENT”.

Communicate to affected personnel (through e-mail or in person training) that the facility’s obsolete documents (both electronic and hard copy) should removed from points of use and destroyed, or otherwise managed so as to guard against their unintended use. Suitably identified as “OBSOLETE” when retained for legal and/or knowledge preservation purposes (obsolete documents are considered records

Another key factor for adequate document control is to develop a location listing of all distributed controlled documents.  The listing should include the document name, document posting locations, number of copies at the posting location, person responsible for the distributed copy, and the last revision date of the posted document.

Safety Management System

In conclusion,a robust document control process lies at the heart of a quality Safety Management System management; nearly every aspect of auditing and compliance verification is determined through the scrutiny of documented evidence.Remember, if it is not documented, it did not happen.