When it comes time to hire a new safety manager, there are a lot of things to consider. You know you want someone with a positive attitude; a real go getter who will champion your safety program. But, when it comes to vetting through tens (and sometimes hundreds) of applications, it can be a challenge knowing which qualities to look for.

In my 31 years in the safety industry, I’ve found that the best safety managers are those who exemplify the four following habits.

Engineer with hardhat using tablet pc computer inspecting and working at construction site

1. Choose the safe way, always.

The first one is a no brainer. Of course your safety manager’s first priority should always be safety, but I’m afraid this one might not be as obvious as you’d like to think. “Choosing the safe way, always” means knowing and practicing the safety procedures for the job each day and never taking shortcuts that could jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of the team or themsleves. A safety manager should believe that the safety of their team ultimately equates to their own success.

2. Lead by example

When it comes to safety and compliance, it’s often a case of “if you’re going to talk the talk, you must walk the walk”– especially when it concerns new and young hires. Workers always look to their peers to understand the status quo of their workplace. If they observe their manager not following the rules, they’ll likely follow suit. It’s essential to find a safety manager who will teach by action, set the tone of the workplace and be a positive example to their team.
Willingness to comply is often earned by respect; your safety manager should connect with their team by practicing active listening and learning with their entire team. Leading by example doesn’t mean knowing everything. If the safety manager doesn’t know the answer to something, they should have the courage to admit it, and then find the answer so that everyone on the team can do it the safe way.

3. Reinforce good behaviours

We all benefit from hearing kind words after a job well done. A good safety manager mentors and coaches their team; part of that includes recognizing and praising their workers for being safe.
If you’ve ever dabbled in psychology, you may have come across the term operate conditioning. If you haven’t, it’s an easy one to learn. In short, if you reinforce good behaviour, the good behaviour is likely to happen again. An example of this could be as simple as receiving a “thank you” after doing someone a favour. Hearing the positive affirmation after doing the task makes you more likely to want to do it again. In the world of safety, when a safety managers says something as simple as “great job” or “good thinking” when they see a worker do something the safe way (rather than cutting a corner), it makes a huge difference in not only the likely hood of a team being compliant, but it can also majorly boost morale.

4. Align personal goals with company’s vision

If your organisation is anything like ours, it’s likely very important to you that you find a hire who believes in your culture. Some of our core values include:

  • Honouring commitments
  • Being relentless about improvement
  • Going the extra mile
  • Practicing blameless problem solving
  • Listening with an open mind and open heart
  • Being supportive and empathetic
  • Being a fanatic about response time

To learn more about our 35 Fundamentals, click here.
It’s important that your new safety hire aligns their personal goals in their role with your company’s vision. This way, you can ensure that their leadership and management styles exemplify your own.

In my experience, these four habits are key in the success of a quality safety manager. Would you like to add to the list? Be sure to comment below on what you think makes an effective safety manager.
Good luck and happy searching!

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Michael Douglas

National Manager, Marketing Segments

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