As a safety professional, I work with a wide variety of organizations and often serve as a coach and mentor to new safety coordinators and managers. These include those who have recently chosen safety as a vocation or have been promoted from within an organization. Many have taken on the role as safety manager in addition to their day-to-day responsibilities. These may include, for example, human resources professionals, office managers, or project superintendents.
As a new coordinator or manager, it can be challenging to know exactly where to start, not only to learn about safety in general, but how to build a basic program. For example, one may have to locate or piece together program materials from a former manager. Furthermore, there may be no safety program at all. In addition, new managers may not be thoroughly familiar with the processes involved at their organization, let alone the safety regulations that apply.
The goal of the following discussion will be to emphasize how new safety managers do not have to build everything from the ground up. Instead, they can take advantage of existing and easily available resources, and take practical steps toward developing and implementing an effective safety program.
While this discussion is geared for new managers, more experienced safety professionals can also benefit from the concepts of planning for safety, hazard identification and control, training, communication, and ensuring the effectiveness of their safety activities. These topics or "buckets" frame basic safety considerations for the new safety manager. By becoming a sound practitioner in each, the safety manager will be setting the stage for program success, as well as their future development and capabilities.
The first "essential consideration" bucket to fill in order to help a new safety manager get their safety program in order is planning. Here, a blueprint is needed that has both strategic and tactical characteristics. Let's highlight three of those characteristics.