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Habits of Effective Safety Managers
Courtesy of EHS Today 


The most effective people managing safety and health in industry know that a safety program is much more than writing rules and training employees to follow them. Although terms like "leadership ability" and "people skills" are overused to the point of sounding meaningless (especially on resumes!), success or failure in business often hinges on dealing with human personalities effectively. This certainly applies to safety and health matters. The following is offered as an introduction to 10 good habits that can make you more effective.


  • Praise employees when they choose safe behaviors. These are the acts you should encourage. Try to be specific as to the good behavior you are praising, and sincere and timely in your praise.


  • Solicit participation from employees. Listen when people offer suggestions, concerns or complaints. Their suggestions might be better than your ideas, so give them a chance.


  • Reward employee participation. Employees will often feel very proud of their efforts to contribute to resolving safety and health issues, either on the work floor or in safety meetings. It's usually not part of their job description or field of expertise, but they feel they are helping their fellow workers, perhaps possibly saving someone from disability or death, when they participate in safety and health matters.


  • Be a shining example. People learn more by watching management than they would ever care to admit. Always follow every rule and procedure religiously, if you want others to do so.


  • Invest in people. Your investment will build your reputation among the employees far more effectively and positively than anything else you can do.


  • Continuously improve and simplify safety. Remove hazards where possible, rather than protect employees from them.


  • Visit your employees work areas regularly. Surprisingly, some safety managers walk through production areas only once a week or less. This can inhibit communication and cooperation by reminding employees of the management status of the safety manager.


  • Maintain openness. Make sure to inform employees as much as you can about what you are doing, when you ae doing it. i.e., test alarms; bring visitors through, change safety equipment or procedures, etc.


  • Learn the names of employees. Almost everyone likes being recognized by name. It helps bring down communication barriers.


  • Try to learn something new AT LEAST ONCE PER day. Safety and health professionals who have professional certifications must acquire continuing education units to maintain their certifications. There is a good reason for this requirement. It helps keep these professionals current about safety and health issues. You can do the same thing, often at little cost.

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