Health & Safety Institute Blog

July 17, 2015

Skills and Best Practices for the Safety Professional

Our respect and appreciation for the safety professional knows no bounds here at HSI, but we understand that isn’t the case in every company. Those at the helm of an organization’s safety program are often the unsung hero of their company, and that can make it tough when it’s time to fight for budget resources or even just to win support from upper management in creating a company-wide safety culture.

On the Workplace Communicator Blog at Digicast Productions, they offer a list of 10 skills safety pros can cultivate to help them be heard and get that all-important “safety first” message out:

  • Commercial knowledge – Understand your company and your product so you become the expert on how safety truly impacts everything and is everyone’s responsibility.
  • People skills – Understand your workers, listen to them (even the ones on the night shift when perhaps you normally aren’t there), have a visible presence.
  • Written communication skills – Pitching your safety plan takes a little marketing finesse. Sometimes you have to sell your ideas up the ladder, so make those ideas clear and appealing.
  • Safety conversation skills – Safety conversations can be among the toughest employees have to initiate in the workplace. They need to feel like they can open up to you. And it works both ways; “You need to know a variety of approaches to talk to people about improving their safety habits.”
  • Ask, don’t tell – “If you want to build rapport and get the real answer from people, ask questions and hold back from answering.  A real leader shows interest in people and asks questions.  This means if someone omitted a key safety step you'd ask them about why they did, how they could have done it better, rather than just telling them what to do.”
  • Encourage safety accountability – Describe an unsafe scenario to your workers in your next safety meeting and ask them to come up with the solution. Don’t always be “the answer person.”
  • Run a high-performance safety meeting – This one is all about “getting everyone to come up with safety solutions, having open safety discussions and ensuring action is taken.”
  • Share information – “Companies that are great at safety have supervisors and safety staff that freely share safety information.  For example, this means if they saw an article in the paper about a safety accident that involved the same equipment at their premises they would use that as an opportunity to discuss risks.  It means passing on information from production.” (Your HSI blog is a great resource for safety best practices! Plus we offer CPR and first aid skills posters you can use in your break rooms and other public workplace areas for a quick visual refresher in an emergency - call 800.447.3177 to order yours.)
  • Removing gender bias – Everyone in the company must feel able to come forward about issues that impact their own safety.
  • Be able to work with senior management – “Being able to get senior staff to support a new safety initiative is integral.” Truer words have never been spoken. Buy-in and culture come from the top down, so win your allies to your cause.

If you need to hone some of the skills mentioned in today’s post, Summit Training Source offers a course designed to help supervisors bring successful safety culture to their workplaces:

Leadership Skills for Safety – Supervisor Safety

An effective behavior-based training program, Leadership Skills for Safety provides ways for supervisors to encourage positive worker attitudes toward safety. The course demonstrates:

  • Safety-oriented behavior techniques
  • Hazard recognition
  • Accident investigation
  • Job safety analysis
  • Systematic approaches for correcting unsafe acts and conditions
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Positive reinforcement follow-up theory

Successful safety pros: what have you tried at your organization that helped you put safety first? What skills do you find invaluable for anyone responsible for a company’s safety program? Share your good ideas with our blog readers in the comment fields below.

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