Assigning Safety to Another Department

Would you assign your organizations finances to the operations team?  Would you assign your quality work to the human resources team?  The answer is no.  You assign work to the educated and experienced professional with a credential in the field.

A growing trend is appearing on my radar.  The trend toward rolling safety work into another position or assigning safety work to an unqualified person.  Not to say people cannot learn to implement safety, it is to say, safety is not just reading and interpreting laws written by OSHA or “bench marking” off another organization that you saw in the past.

Safety is about reducing workplace injuries.  It is about increasing productivity through creating a safer environment.  It is about sending people home to their families at the end of shift in a healthy condition.  In the US, we are still seeing an increase in workplace injuries and fatalities.  So, are we really doing the right thing by our employees when we assign safety to the unqualified?

Many articles on behavior based safety or on standard safety work lead the reader to believe that safety is a part of everyone’s job.  Yes, safety is for everyone but it does not mean we do not need a qualified leader to set the strategy, implement the work and know what truly is a hazard and how to mitigate.  The safety person is the organization’s coach.  The person to ensure that all parts of the injury reduction strategies are working.

The down fall of assigning safety to another department is a diffusion of efforts and an increase in injuries.  Deploying safety is not a simple task.  It has many moving parts, regulators, engagement, auditors and humans.  It requires an experienced educated safety person.  Saving short term dollars on assigning work to the untrained tends to lead to long term losses.

Companies that really need to build their safety culture, control costs and are not yet ready to use an internal professional, help is still available.  Contact your local American Society of Safety Professionals, find a coach, select ANSI or ISO standards, find training that helps your team succeed.  Don’t do this work alone.  The result is increased injuries, increase OSHA fines and a loss of customers that are requiring social responsibility commitments.

Valerie Waterland, MS, ARM, MBB is a Licensed Counselor who uses her education and skills to help leaders become their best version that ensures organizational success.  She is a master blackbelt in Lean Six Sigma and a certified ISO 45001 professional.  She has been working with organizations for over 25 years to implement sustainable employee gold standard practices that reduce workplace injuries and improve employee engagement.  For more information