Safety Management Systems: Audits to cut red tape

Safety Management Systems: Audits to cut red tape

New York: US-based Safety Management Systems (SMS) aims to help owners make light work of compliance in an industry whose regulatory responsibilities hang increasingly heavy.

New technology is and will continue to be offered as the answer to many of shipping’s safety and environmental challenges – including training.

At the same time, shipping’s audit trail grows longer it seems with each passing regulation, and the call for relief from the administrative burden on operational staff now reverberating as an industry rallying cry.

The irony is that the technology advanced to meet new rules can lose the efficiency gains promised by suppliers in the accompanying flurry of paperwork at sea and ashore required to demonstrate compliance.

Internal audits are nonetheless a vital component of any type of management system – whether they relate to quality, safety or the environment, and their frequency is likely to grow and not diminish. Another reality – in which shipping is by no means unique – is that internal auditing requires some measure of support and inevitably benefits from the involvement of a dispassionate third-party.

SMS has provided client-focused consulting services that include audit support to the global maritime, transportation and related industries for two decades. SMS director Bill Mahoney says that, over that time, relationships perhaps conceived in response to safety regulations have blossomed to encompass a range of procedures.

“If we’re involved with the customer through an underwriter, for example, our focus isn’t on investigating claims and providing a forensic accounting,” says Mahoney. “We look at leading indicators and determine the means to make the best use of them. Underwriters see our involvement as a means to assist operators in safeguarding against future losses. We offer pragmatic recommendations and seek to build on what is already functioning well within an organization.

“If the brief is to audit the safety management system in its entirety, we don’t tell operators how to run their business. We let them do that while we help establish the controls and mechanisms to keep everything functioning in a way that leads to performance improvements over time.”

SMS was acquired last year by ClassNK, but remains an independent entity.

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