The Unique Role of Safety

Safety is the most magnificent role of compassionate service to others.

Warriors? Safety seems like warriors sometimes, the way we champion causes to reduce employee injuries. We display dogged determination for working in the future, planning long before other teams consider new standards of working safely. Problem solvers? You bet. We work on any problem and try to resolve it, often with no fanfare.

Negotiators? Safety is certainly a skilled negotiator -- and also a bargain hunter with a strained budget and a horse trader, too. Confidants? If you are successful at safety, yes. Do we talk too much? Often, but our intentions are genuine. Misunderstood by management? Absolutely.

We seem preoccupied because we are working on numerous projects at the same time. Dedicated? Without a doubt.

No department or stand-alone soul has more complete access than safety to every employee and nook and cranny of a facility with such ease. We are relied on, trusted, feared, hated, and sometimes dreaded. Others grudgingly accept us. Most try to ignore us and our efforts -- until an accident occurs. Then, we are the first they call.

Successful safety professionals are usually respected and simultaneously held in kind regard and with passive neglect on the management team. Positive in outlook, they are quietly busy, working toward the future. They get the job done and don't constantly stand for photos or other pats on the back. It is about the job, not "see me." They go home at the end of a career knowing they made a difference in a good way and left the workplace safer and employees wiser about working without injury. This describes the majority of safety that I have known.

The Firestarters
Then, there are the negative "my way" safety folks who generally get little done and who cause more problems than they correct. They spout wild fear and create disharmony in the workplace. Sneaky and underhanded, they turn a burning match into a forest fire. (All of us have seen this type.) They thrive on hysteria and keeping everything stirred up; they destroy good programs with lavish expenses or procedural change. They set up more work for others and wander on to the next crisis to create.

You and I have worked with or known at least one of these individuals, who give us the same thrill as a wet dog shaking mud on us. It is about power and advancement and more money at all costs, including damage to others. I have been subjected to several of these people. We as safety learn what not to do like them and move on, repair the damage, rebuild the lost communication, and move forward, shaken but steadfast.

As safety professionals, we have a choice: to be serving to others or self serving. I have much admiration for the outstanding safety gurus I know and have known. We have the unique role of making the workplace safer by many means, using the latest technology, common sense, miserly budgets, the best training aids, and communication. And we accomplish much, one project at a time, listening and using the information for the good of all. Our unique role is attitude and empathy. We really care and work tirelessly to improve workplace safety. Safety is the most magnificent role of compassionate service to others.

This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping there are always questions regarding the requirements and in and outs. IndustrySafe is here to help. We put together this page with critical information to help answer your key questions about OSHA recordkeeping.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We put together a guide that’s easy to digest so you can ensure you're complying with OSHA's training standards.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus