The Eight P’s of Good Safety Management
- Passion – really believe in what you do, and be strongly committed to improving the safety culture.
- Patience – be prepared to answer lots of questions from those who don’t share your vision (well, not just yet).
- Professional – be sought by management for your input and advice, be respected for your knowledge, act as a role model, and link OHSE strategies to business (value-adding). Credibility is one of the keys to effective management. The Safety Officer needs to be someone whose advice is appreciated at all levels of the organization because it is practical and improves outcomes.
- Priority – act with urgency, and complete tasks.
- Persistence/Perseverance – challenge non-compliance, and do not let the actions of others slip by.
- Performance/Proactive – get things done/take action/have a go, pursue best practice, have good ideas (problem solving), and be reliable.
- People Person – influence behavior, be a good listener, and be an excellent communicator.
- Personality/Profile – be seen around the site, and have a sense of humor
What are the skills required to manage the role of Safety Officer?
The key skills are political, interpersonal, problem solving, finance, and marketing skills. Safety Officers needs to have political savvy to influence change. They need to understand the business and know who’s in a position of influence. They need to spend time in management committees, and on the floor talking to people. Good interpersonal skills can influence a change in the behavior of staff. People do what gets noticed, rewarded, and measured. They want to be managed by principles not endless rules and regulations, and they want purposes and principles that inspire them, empower them, and encourage them to do their best. Safety management is about leading people to good ideas and so a proactive not a reactive person is needed in the job. Safety Officers need to decide what behavior is needed and to encourage it by giving positive reinforcement each and every time they see that behavior exhibited. They need to structure their language, discussion, and interface with other managers in such a way that they speak their language and can explain issues in a way that motivates others in the ordinary course of business.
To solve problems, Safety Officers need to use the power and pervasiveness of information to make everyone aware of the problem. They need to be able to use problems to find practical solutions. They need to shift from hazard spotting, which is a negative activity, to developing positive strategies to highlight safety performance successes. They need to use their knowledge to educate and train people to view safety as a value-adding component, not as an additional problem.
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