Not long ago, most safety managers were plant employees who worked their way up through the ranks. Now, however, most safety personnel have specialized, formal education, and they’re required to be more strategic and proactive in preventing accidents and illnesses.
As a result, we’ve seen the profession evolve and these critical safety management changes emerge as a result.
Whether you are a current safety manager, an aspiring one or a hiring manager looking for the right fit, you should carefully consider how these shifts impact your organization.
The Global Harmonized System
Businesses throughout the world are merging, consolidating and branching out to new countries, and location-specific guidelines are no longer enough to ensure the safety of employees of multinational corporations.
In response to the need for consistency across borders, the United States’ materials safety data sheets (MSDS), Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and other national materials guidelines are being replaced by the Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
All organizations need to maintain a comprehensive record of safety data sheets that comply with these new requirements. Using MSDS software makes it easier for all employees to maintain, update and access these important records.
Regulatory officials are facing greater scrutiny than ever. Canada in particular has seen several recent lawsuits against labor officials, many of them alleging negligence. Other commonly cited problems with regulators include a lack of industry-relevant education, insufficient training and a lack of practical experience. If these allegations are true, current and future safety mangers will need to be even more vigilant in upholding safety standards themselves.
High Demand for Safety Personnel
With specialization comes higher demand, and the safety industry is no exception. Now that safety managers’ roles require specific education, training and experience, companies throughout the country and around the world are seeking out qualified candidates, especially in the highest-risk industries. In fact, some businesses are even appointing safety officials to their C-suites.
With growing demand and an increasingly specialized list of skills, it’s no surprise that safety personnel are facing larger workloads. Today’s safety managers have to appeal to a variety of stakeholders: upper management and C-suite executives, regulators and – most importantly – the workers they’re keeping safe. They also have to carry out a variety of administrative and bookkeeping tasks, from incident documentation to scheduling to the purchase of personal protective equipment.
Safety has certainly improved across all industries, but growing populations and economies are still causing increased injuries and fatalities. The economy is on an uptick, and that means more construction, more manufacturing and more jobsite accidents have occurred. Plus, fatalities from mesothelioma, asbestos and other recently discovered long-term safety concerns still haven’t peaked.
As these trends continue, safety managers’ skills will likely garner even greater demand.
The Zero-Incident Goal
Despite the increase in job-related injuries and illnesses, many safety-minded companies are aiming for an ambitious goal: zero incidents! The seemingly unattainable “Target Zero” can drive organizations to succeed, but it can also set people up for inaction and failure.
In fact, unrealistic goals can actually drive people to take more risks and less positive action.
What can you do as a safety manager to help your company achieve this lofty goal—or at least come close? For a few ideas, download this quick guide, 9 Ways to Make Your Job As A Safety Manager Easier.