Safety management is a key component of creating safe and comfortable work environments. The goal of safety managers is to not only maintain safety in hazardous situations, but to also prevent these situations from occurring in the first place.
To aid in this process, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established myriad rules and regulations. Yet, some safety supervisors assume that simply following these protocols is enough. For superb safety management, managers should not only follow OSHA guidelines, but also adapt and personalize these guidelines to fit in with their company’s overall safety needs.
Failing to implement a personalized safety protocol can lead to a variety of safety management errors, with some of the most common being a lack of proactivity and communication, improper staff training, and overall fatigue.
Failing to be Proactive
When it comes to managing workplace safety, it can be very easy to fall into the habit of being reactive rather than proactive. For example, rather than establishing a continuous assessment of the work environment, managers may merely implement new safety protocols after an accident has occurred.
This lack of proactivity can be extremely dangerous for safety supervisors as well as their team. Furthermore, this approach has the potential to send mixed messages to employees and peers, for some may feel as though their safety and well-being are only a priority after an accident has occurred.
As aforementioned, a key way to manage this error is by establishing a safety program that continuously seeks out potential workplace hazards. Another way to solve this issue is to include safety awareness into the overall workplace culture. That way, every employee will be aiding another as they go about their daily tasks, making note of any potential hazards that they may come across in the process.
Lack of Effective Communication
Effective communication is one of the most essential components of human interaction. Therefore, it naturally has played a crucial role in creating and maintaining a friendly, comfortable workplace.
Sadly, effective communication (as well as its importance) is often overlooked or taken for granted. For example, in large companies, employees might not be well acquainted with one another. Thus, to an employee in a non-safety department, speaking with a safety manager might seem as uncomfortable and strained as speaking with a stranger walking on the street, and vice versa.
Due to this discomfort, both may have difficulties connecting and effectively communicating with one another. This lack of effective communication has the potential to translate into an ineffective safety program, for safety managers often develop programs around the feedback they get from peers.
To promote effective communication, safety managers should do their best to create and maintain an open communication system, whether that is via phone, email, or a team-wide messaging platform like Slack. This way, managers and employees can briefly check-in with each other as needed (for large companies, this can be as easy as a brief follow-up).
Not Properly Training or Educating Staff
A lack of proper training can be a common error when it comes to safety management. This is often due not to a lack of effort, but rather because safety managers assume that employees know what they know. By no means does this mean that safety manager should not approach their peers as intellectual equals, but it is essential that mangers remember that everyone has their own specialty (i.e. safety managers keep up-to-date on the most recent safety protocols and procedures, while marketing managers stay on top of the marketing industry, etc.).
To be certain that staff are properly educated, managers should make sure that they take any industry abbreviations or phrases and translate them into simple English. This way staff members from any department will be able to equally understand the necessary protocols and methodologies.
Fatigue plays a deceptive role in safety management. Such is the case largely because fatigued individuals are often too tired to even consider potential hazards. Fatigue can also influence an individual’s ability to properly perform duties and tasks, which results in a far more dangerous situation than if an individual was alert and aware.
One of the recent trends in combating fatigue has been taking short breaks when possible. Stepping away from the current task allows the brain to refresh, leaving individuals feeling more alert and less exhausted. For these breaks, individuals can do something as simple as walking and grabbing a glass of water or stepping out for a quick breath of fresh air.
While the errors mentioned above serve as the most common errors, it is important to keep in mind that there are a variety of potential workplace hazards. Therefore, to maintain top safety awareness, managers should do their best to stay alert and informed, both on the job and when researching industry advancements.
Learn to identify and analyze potential workplace hazards, infractions and risks through a bachelor of science in occupational safety online. At Eastern Kentucky University, you will gain a graduate-level education by industry-experienced educators and fire and safety professionals who are committed to teaching and preparing you for continued success.