No safety management system will function effectively unless there is management buy-in and leadership. The Accountable Executive 3 of the operation must send a clear signal in writing to all its personnel, stating that this is the way it wants the operation to function.
No amount of enthusiasm or planning by staff will have any effect if management is lukewarm towards, or is seen to be unsupportive of SMS implementation. Staff need to know that they can count on company management to support their safety initiatives. Company management must be seen by their behaviour and actions to support SMS.
Here is a well-known safety poster that aptly illustrates this point.
In order for senior management to make a commitment and fully support safety management, they must have an understanding of risk management. This can be accomplished by self-education or by taking risk management courses. There are some examples of risk management processes included with the SMS toolkit.
Once hazards start to be identified, senior management must be prepared to commit resources to address those hazards. What types of resources are needed? Time is needed for meetings, information gathering and planning. Information is needed in the form of literature, seminars and training. You can determine which of your personnel already have expertise in safety management and involve them in the program to improve its viability. Finally, as hazards begin to be identified, senior management must be prepared to commit resources to find solutions promptly. If they are merely "swept under the carpet" because the fix is too time-consuming or costs money, the program will lose impetus and credibility, and the hazards will remain.
3 See Section on "Responsibility"