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October 25, 2022United StatesBlog

Here’s the One Thing I Wish I’d known before becoming a Safety Professional

There’s a lot that goes into being a safety professional. From keeping up with the latest industry standards to ensuring compliance with regulations, it can be a very demanding career. If I could go back and tell myself one thing before embarking on this journey, it would be the fact that there is no one thing. Read that again. Slowly this time. I’m not kidding. Very few things surprise safety guys, but this epiphany may very well end up on the list. Not to sound cliché, but if only I knew then what I know now. That statement has never made more sense before now. The truth is that there are at least two, possibly three pieces of advice that rush to mind simultaneously. There is a rank however, and here is how it starts: we should always stay focused on the goal: protecting people. No matter what else is going on, protecting your workers should be the top priority. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget why we’re doing this type of work in the first place. Take a moment to pause and reflect amidst the chaos of injury investigations and policy audits. As long as we keep our eye on the prize. The people are why we are here, and we have been given an opportunity to make a real difference in the world through those employees. The second thing: never underestimate the importance of effective communication. Being able to effectively communicate with everyone from senior management to frontline workers is absolutely essential in our line of work. It’s what allows us to build relationships, earn trust and gain respect. These are crucial for us to make any significant impact in the workplace. Sometimes it’s not just important what you say, so much as how it is delivered. Why? The delivery determines how well it will be received and how it is received influences how it makes people feel. The final thing: How you make people feel determines who you are to them. A company’s safety culture is heavily dependent on what its employees believe that company represents. That perception is linked to the feelings derived from the organization’s actions or lack thereof. As a safety professional, every program, policy and initiative we roll out must contain a component of humanity in order for people to feel its relevance and importance. Explaining the most complicated procedures should always begin with a simple conversation. After several years in the rabbit hole now, one thing is certain: there is always something left to learn. The hard times in the field will come and go no different than the sun and the rain. But let me be clear: this field is not for the meek, it takes perseverance. If you desire a cushy cubicle job free of conflict and challenges, this is not the job for you. If you want to learn how to solve problems and help people, then it probably is. What’s important is to never get stuck in mistakes, and begin to recognize what is needed, when it is needed (put an umbrella in your car and/or office, thank me later). Over time, this list will continue to grow. The day the list stops growing will probably be the end of my safety career.

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