Be a Safety Zombie – Or make a change to survive
If you still believe the role of a safety practitioner is all about setting up management systems, conducting training and monitoring compliance etc. think again. No longer can safety practitioners fall back on regulations or industry norms as justification for their present roles.
Organisations around the world cannot always afford to pay for standalone specialism. If safety people want to continue to work in the long-term they must change and become business focussed or they may not survive.
Many businesses are now facing a need for urgent change and the roles of individuals are being closely looked at. No one wants to continue to spend money on a resource which they see as a financial drain and not adding visible or quantifiable returns on investment.
People are now expected to be multi-skilled and able to adapt to different roles. Can we with any confidence stand up and say as Safety practitioners that we have adapted to the challenges of future change? Or are we just walking around like zombies waiting for all to end with no future chance of resurrection?
Let’s look at things from an angle of efficiency and lean management. If we were running a company with a small safety team of 3 or 4 people and looking at reducing cost the following might be a simple approach that many would take;
- Appoint a single Safety Practitioner as the Corporate Advisor. (Make the remainder of the safety team redundant)
- Have management and supervisory staff take on direct responsibility and accountability for inspections and monitoring. (Multi-Tasking)
- Training reduced to online and mobile phone applications (Use of Technology)
The first response by many might be “not in my industry”. Well it’s already happening in many companies, and by putting our heads in the sand will not make it disappear. So it’s time to wake up and face the truth.
So what can you do?
Now is the time to re-evaluate your skill set and decide what you want your future to be. Take a close look at your organisation and find out what are the main drivers for efficiency and profitability. If you don’t know the basics, you can’t plan for your own survival. You need to evaluate and adapt by;
- Mapping out your own strengths and weaknesses and develop a personal improvement plan.
- Identifying key areas that you can assimilate and start to develop the appropriate skills and knowledge.
- Building an internal and external network and let people know what you can contribute to a business besides safety knowledge.
There are many other things that need to be done to survive in today’s commercial world. Hopefully the above has given you some food for thought and will help you combat any future challenges you may encounter in your career.
So remember; Evaluate, Adapt and Survive.
About the Author: Wayne J Harris
Wayne is a highly regarded international specialist in developing corporate risk and HSE management systems. He has advised major organisations both private and governmental, on key issues of strategy and organisational risk and safety management for over 30 years.
Experience gained in dealing within the international arena and multiple cultures from Europe, Asia-Pacific, to the Middle East has given him a comprehensive understanding of the global risk issues facing an organisation in today’s business economy. He has held various senior corporate roles, and has sat on the Board of Directors of several companies including a Chamber of Commerce. He is also the Chairman of ISQEM, and a Director of the World Safety Organization (WSO) UN-NGO.