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Safety management plans

Your Safety Management Plan(SMP) must describe both your Organisational and Operational systems. Together with your organisation’s safety culture, these systems drive the development of your safe operating procedures (SOPs). Unlike SOPs, SMPs are not usually taken into the field.

A Safety Management Plan (SMP) Template has been produced in consultation with WorkSafe NZ. It is designed to help operators meet the requirements of the Health and Safety in Employment Adventure Activities Regulations 2011. It covers the SMP part of a safety management system, it does not cover safe operating procedures. To view the template go to the 'writing your plan' section.

Organisational Systems

Organisational systems broadly describe your operation, its legal obligations and how you will control your safety management plan.

Headings and topic areas

The descriptions of your organisational systems should cover the following areas:

Business Description

Organisation name and ownership information

What activities you provide, including components such as transport

Locations and seasons of operations

People e.g. number of staff and description of your intended customer group

Health and Safety information

"I really struggled with knowing what my legal obligations were. Writing my plan made me finally sort it out!"

A commitment statement to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

Health and safety goals/objectives

Systems and time frames for reviewing your operation against your health and safety goals/objectives

How you will ensure your health and safety statement and goals are available to all interested parties

How you will appoint and utilise health and safety committees and representatives (when applicable)

Legal obligations and Industry Standards

Which legislative rules and regulations apply to your operation

Which industry standards apply to your operation e.g. activity specific guidelines, qualifications

A statement of commitment that you will comply with legislation and meet industry standards

Information on how you will comply e.g. qualifications, consents, permits (these are often held in the appendices)

If there are no formal industry standards - a statement on how you will ensure you operate at industry accepted levels

Plan/Document control

How you will keep track of amendments to your plan and its supporting documentation; including dates, and who authorises any changes

How you will ensure that only current copies are in use


Master copies of each of your operations’ forms and checklists

Master copies of any other useful supporting material referred to in your safety management plan e.g. hazardous equipment storage information

A list of locations of ‘in use’ safety elements referenced in your safety management plan ( if not already stated in the sections above) e.g. equipment logs, maintenance schedules, hazard notification boards


Any key terms used in the safety management plan which may need clarification for staff or someone conducting an external review e.g. serious harm or incidents

Operational Systems

These are the systems that you will use to create your safe operational procedures.

NB: For guidance on the content of each topic area refer to the sections such as Hazards, Clients, and Emergencies.  

Your description of each system should address (where applicable) the following:

  • Why it needs to be done/considered
  • Who has overall responsibility for the system
  • Who actually does it (if different from who is responsible)
  • What the system actually involves
  • Where forms or other relevant information are kept
  • Time requirements e.g. reports must be made within a certain time 
  • How all relevant staff receive and understand  key information
  • How key actions are checked, particularly key safety actions  e.g. staff signing a hazard update board
  • Record keeping protocols e.g. procedures for filing vehicle pre-trip checklists
  • Procedures for reviewing or updating the system

Common headings and topic areas

All safety management plans should have operational descriptions that cover the following content areas:

"I tried to write down everything we did, but it soon became clear that my guys preferred short clear instructions.."

Hazard Management

  • Identifying
  • Assessing
  • Managing and monitoring
  • Record keeping
  • Training

Note: Operators proving activities covered by the Adventure Activity Regulations 2011 are requried to have a section within their plan explicitly dealing with managing the hazard of drugs and alcohol


  • Selection
  • Pre-use checks
  • Inspection and maintenance
  • Record keeping
  • Retirement
  • Training


  • Selection
  • Induction
  • Communication
  • Training
  • Monitoring
  • Record keeping
  • Contractors


  • Intended client profile
  • Information you should gather from clients
  • Information you should give to clients
  • Checking for understanding of information
  • Record Keeping

Incident reporting

  • What to report
  • How to report
  • Learning and follow up
  • Training and monitoring
  • Record keeping

Emergency response

  • Emergency scenarios
  • Response procedures
  • Training

Safety System Checks and Reviews

  • Who is responsible for ensuring these happen
  • Frequency and timing of internal and external reviews
  • Record keeping