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November 18, 2022United StatesBlog

4 Mistakes every New Safety Professional should avoid.

No matter how experienced you are in other industries, the environmental health and safety profession can be quite a learning curve for newcomers. It's always great when we can learn from our mistakes, but even better to learn from the mistakes of others. There are going to be some rookie mistakes to avoid, but only if you're willing to listen. The best warnings are the ones we never end up needing.

Here are 4 mistakes every new Safety Professional should avoid: 1. Not doing your research Every job is not the same; some present higher hills to climb than others could ever slope. One of the biggest mistakes that new safety professionals make is not doing their research. This includes researching the company's financial strength, the relationship between their operation and its risks, the scope of the role, the industry itself, and the hazards associated with it. The structure of the organization is a strong indicator of the level of support you may expect to receive in your mission to improve their safety. Without this information, you may be taking on a challenge that wasn't meant for you to succeed in the first place. Remember, the house always wins. 2. Underestimating the risks Another mistake that rookies often make is underestimating the risks involved in a particular job or industry. Typically, the greater the risks, the more complex the role and the higher the compensation. This makes sense on the surface, but not so fast buddy. No amount of money is worth the level of worry and frustration that will relentlessly haunt you from lack of preparedness or even worse, a lack of results. Know exactly what you're signing up for to avoid unnecessary surprises. It’s important to take into account all potential hazards and assess the risks before taking any action, or better yet, accepting the position. 3. Assuming you know it all It’s natural to want to learn as much as you can about your new profession as quickly as possible. However, don’t assume that you know everything just because you’ve been doing this for a few weeks or months. There’s always more to learn and you should never stop learning. More importantly, accepting that you don't know what you don't know will probably prepare you to adapt to the worst of situations while still being hopeful for the best. 4. Not asking for help when needed One of the best things about being part of a team is that everyone can offer help in some way towards your safety goals regardless of their role. Part of your job is to design the best fit to utilize their contribution within your Safety Management System. There will come a time when you don’t understand how (or even why) something works or is done a certain way. You may end up unsure of an operational process that potentially affects employee safety. Don’t be afraid to ask a subject matter expert for an explanation. Find mentors and identify knowledgeable resources. It may take consulting multiple people or departments to connect the dots. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Chances are, that person will be flattered to be considered a subject matter expert in their role. In those first few years, we were all tempted to do too much too soon. If ambition is the fuel then planning is the transmission. Always remember that the safety of the workforce should be your top priority. At times, that will require you to step out of your comfort zone to meet the demands of the problem you are facing.

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