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Why you may never be promoted to a Senior Safety Position

June 22, 2014

Author: Rick Lewis 


Everybody knows that to be promoted in the Safety profession you have to have that little bit extra to offer an employer, rather than just turning up on time for work every day. But still people seem to make the simplest mistakes during their career.  It doesn’t matter where you work there are 3 things that might stop you dead in your tracks when it comes to career development;

1. Complacency 

Number one on the list is complacency.  One way to ensure you never move up the corporate EHS ladder is to become complacent in your job. You can’t progress if your still doing the same old thing you did 10 or 20 years ago.

To progress in EHS everyone needs to develop their knowledge and skills in various aspects of management including;

  • Marketing
  • Quality
  • Technology
  • Commercial and Finance
  • Leadership

If you do not expand your business knowledge to a sufficient level in line with corporate management, re more than likely to get passed over when it comes to any real promotion.  Remember technology and business practices are continually changing, so you need to keep abreast of them or face the risk of becoming surplus to requirements.

 2. The Late Career Changer

We all have heard the saying “change is good as a rest”, however when it comes to promotion in the safety profession it can be the ball and chain that stops you from progressing further.

Just because someone has 20 years’ experience as an Administration Manager and 3 years working in a safety department, the first 20 years do not count when it comes to measuring competency in Environment Health and Safety (EHS).

Now before everyone objects and says “hang on a minute I use to be an Administration Manager and know all about EHS”, think again. From a company point of view, it is important that they appoint someone with a strong and proven background in EHS.

Just because someone has prior experience in a different profession does not mean they have exposure or the management skills to take on a senior EHS role.  Ask yourself, would you appoint an engineering manager to be your Financial Director, just because they had recently completed a qualification in finance?

3. Failing to have a Succession Plan 

Knowledge is power, or is it?  The person who falls in to the trap of believing that not sharing and keeping everything to their selves will strengthen their future are in for a shock.

Failing to delegate work or work as part of a team because you think you are the only one that can do the safety job can back fire.  The best way to showcase the reasons why you are an ideal candidate for promotion is to surround yourself with people that can easily take over your present role.

Companies need to be comfortable that they have not created a void by promoting you to a higher position, by having a clear succession plan you will greatly improve your chances. Remember when promoting people we are looking for someone who can aspire others to improve and grow in their careers.

Final Comment

There are many reasons why you might get overlooked for promotion, but definitely the above 3 are crucial for you to recognise and understand.  So start developing your own safety career strategy and you just might gain the advantage when it comes to promotion.




One Comment
  1. Hi Rick, This is a great article and poses some common issues. I’d also like to add communication to the list. Often safety professionals focus on having the technical skills but don’t work on their skills in coaching, engagement and influence. These are crucial skills in getting everyone aligned with the safety goals. In the job market, safety professionals that can influence are in strong demand. Yet, few safety professionals spend the time improve these important skills.

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