The success of safety experts many times is judged by their interactions with the teams and field workers they help. The term safety leader is often similar to a safety manager, supervisor, or EHS specialist. However, titles do not make a person a successful safety professional. Anyone, in any role, can be a leader and fight for their crew member’s safety.
First, being observant is a critical part of being a safety professional. Those who are observant catch hazards before an incident or injury occurs. Seeing what everyone else misses is key to getting ahead of safety hazards.
An effective safety leader is proactive and alert. They prepare ahead of time and look for possible safety issues and unsafe areas or conditions before allowing their teams to start work. And, checking once is not enough for them. Every time successful safety leaders enter a job site, they watch for new potential threats and document observations properly or make their safety supervisors informed of the risk.
Next, the ability to express safety concerns and explain safety methods is important to every job site. The best safety professionals are capable of explaining both for all to understand.
Also, the most effective safety leaders are empathic communicators that believe in the personal opinions of others. It is a vital trait to get the best result. They tend to rely on proactive and action-oriented conversations and offer practical expectations.
Likewise, safety leaders listen to others actively for emotion and content. They don’t quickly dismiss or get defensive.
Also, keeping up with safety standards and always being one step ahead of the problem will make sure all employees stay safe and out of harm.
Safety leaders know the job; They learn the work, and they never stop learning. Rules and regulations change quickly and often because new methods of work are being created all the time. Good safety professionals communicate those methods with field crews and help them understand where safety is most important.
Another trait for a top tier safety expert is being able to make hard decisions. This quality is crucial in the safety industry. Some of the most difficult choices are needed but not wanted.
The best safety professionals and leaders don’t become enablers of unsafe behavior. They refuse to ignore problems that put anyone at risk and talk openly to correct them before anyone is hurt. They are fair, firm, and respectful. Their teams and employees know the safety leader has their back and won’t settle when safety is on the line.
Finally, to be the best, you must be a leader. Now, a leader must possess the four qualities above: must be observant, a good communicator, knowledgeable, and must have the integrity to be considered a good leader. A leader knows they are not able to create a strong culture of safety alone. So, they include the input of others and put the needs of others above themselves.
In conclusion, these five qualities show employees and others that you are a caring, passionate professional willing to build relationships where feedback is accepted and valued.