♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
May 2016
     

What’s Your Real Job?

(as a Safety Professional)

graphic with text I'm just asking

     

Frequently, when I contact safety professionals, I am told: “We are busy with audits” or “I still have to do the monthly report” or “I am in a safety meeting” or “We are preparing for the EXCO”.
So, my challenge to you, as a safety professional, is:
Describe your real job in a paragraph or two, as if you were a safety consultant and had to sell your services to interested parties.
Now ask yourself: Would you pay a safety consultant for only doing audits, collecting figures, sitting in meetings, producing reports and being a safety accountant?

I know. You have to satisfy the needs of senior management, because they control the resources – pay your salary and approve your budget. Yes, there are legal stipulations which you have to comply with, in terms of reporting and ensuring the safety of employees. Yes, there’s work to be done to get and maintain your accreditation. And yes, you have a job description, with key performance areas in auditing and reporting.

Nonetheless, ask yourself: Who are your real clients? Does all the reporting, auditing and graphs you spend so much time on improve the safety culture? How much of what you do positively affects the employees – the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’ – directly? How much of what you do are ‘self-generated’ activities or distractions which you do because it seems the right thing to do?

Consider. If you are cook, what’s important is the meal you serve. If you are surgeon, what matters is your performance in the operating theatre. If you are speaker, your talk on the stage is what it’s all about.
Most professionals have to spend up to 90% of their time in preparing, ensuring quality, staying up-to-date and many other things. However, none of this matters if the meal is poor, the operation is botched up, or the talk makes no impact because we spent too much time on distractions, instead of the real purpose of our job.

Don’t allow yourself to get confused about which part of your job is really important, really worth your time, the actual point of the exercise, of providing safety support – the part which makes a real difference!

ACTION

Get clarity about what your real job is, then tackle it and deliver!

Look into the ‘integrity mirror’ and list your main tasks. Categorise them into Must Do (value-adding – someone is willing to pay for this), Nice To Have (not critical for safety) and Who Really Wants This (distraction / non-value adding).
If need be, go and rewrite your job description! You are the ‘safety cook’!

Ask the employees (not your managers):

  • How difficult are we making it for you to spend money on safety improvements?
  • How well are we listening, and reacting, to safety concerns or suggestions?
  • How easy is it for you to contact senior managers?
  • Do we give you permission to take action to make it safe?
  • How safety empowered are you and how do we know this?
  • What are we doing to improve and reinvent safety?
  • How good are our safety professionals?
  • What are we doing to support our SHE reps?
  • How much time are we spending on safety and how is that time spent?
  • How much of our safety efforts are re-active as opposed to pro-active?

RELATED READING

I’ve written about this issue a number of times, addressing it from different angles:

Mirror on the wall

Stretched thin

The illusion / paradox of control

I don’t have time

Safety first – really?

The best audits

What is your worth?

Under the knife

FEEDBACK

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

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