This dissertation deals with the subject of Safety Management Systems (SMS) and in particular if and how a compliance based management system can take into account the human factors which are so important in determining an organisation's safety performance . The dissertation hopes to answer the question: Can the implementation of a SMS guarantee an improvement in safety performance? The literature review has three main aims. Firstly it attempts to identify the key human factors that shape safety performance at the level of the organisation, the task and the individual. Secondly it looks at the definition of human error and how such errors have contributed to a number of notorious man made disasters. Finally it identifies which of these human factors need to be addressed in an ideal SMS. The review concludes that not only are certain human factors important in the management of safety, but that they may become more so as technology advances and the human work role becomes more passive. The research looks at the shortcomings in the management of safety in Shell Oils, the lubricants division of Shell UK, by analysing the root causes of accidents and incidents within the company. The methodology used involves the analysis of failure types and in particular stresses the role played by human factors. The end result of this research is an indication of which direction management effort should be focussed to improve the safety performance of the organisation, but it was also clear that such an analysis did not offer tailor made solutions. The dissertation concludes that whilst human factors can be incorporated within a SMS, the implementation of such a system alone cannot guarantee an improvement in safety performance. Such a system needs the support structure of a committed workforce, and in particular the full commitment of the most senior levels of management, otherwise it is purely a paper based exercise in compliance.