Given the fact that the effectiveness of safety management systems (SMS) have reached a no-improvement plateau in most organisations in Hong Kong, those involved in SMS would agree that change is needed to give safety a continuous improvement momentum. The concepts, principles, tools and practices of total quality management (TQM) can be the means to obtain such a change. This paper is an attempt to apply the TQM concepts and techniques in a systematic manner into a SMS. First, the problems of a compliance-oriented SMS adopted by most organisations in Hong Kong are summarised. Then, the needs and rationales for the establishment of TQM-based safety management briefs, which will ultimately determine the backbone of a SMS, are illustrated. Next, a systematic process for developing and implementing a SMS that incorporates TQM principles is outlined. Finally, practical strategies for the implementation of a TQM-based SMS in Hong Kong are suggested.