According to the ISO 26262, the responsibility for achieving functional safety lies with the project manager, not the safety manager.
When we look at the role descriptions during the assessments, it is common to see that the full responsibility for the achievement of safety is assigned to the safety manager. However, this is not the intent of the ISO 26262. Apparently, the actual role responsibilities are overlooked, and many are blinded by the misleading name “Safety Manager”.
If we look at the requirements of the ISO 26262, the responsibility for achieving functional safety is assigned to the project manager!
The project manager is the one responsible for ensuring that the project reaches its goals. This includes all functional safety goals for any project to which functional safety requirements apply. The project manager is authorized to request resources from the organization. This is a vital ability which the safety manager does not have.
Because project managers already have a large number of tasks, ISO 26262 foresees a new role to support the Project Manager in the area of functional safety: The Safety Manager.
The safety manager’s sole task is to assure that the safety activities are planned, coordinated, and tracked. The role description in ISO 26262 does not include the responsibility for achieving functional safety, nor is the safety manager responsible for the technical content nor for performing any verification or confirmation procedures.
It may be the task of the safety manager to drive the activities to completion, yet it is vital to understand that this is not an intrinsic activity of the safety manager. Rather, the person with the role safety manager assumes part of the role of the project manager by supporting the project manager in project execution.
One thing to bear in mind about responsibilities: The ISO 26262 demands a safety culture. This means that in the end every single person in the entire organization is expected to take personal responsibility for performing their part in achieving safety as a team.