Become an Effective Safety Leader | AIChE

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Become an Effective Safety Leader


Each of us is responsible for developing and encouraging a strong safety culture. One way to do that is to incorporate these five critical safety activities into your daily routine.

Because everyone is responsible for safety, anyone can assume a safety leadership role. Those who are effective safety leaders are innovative, and take advantage of daily interactions to discuss safety and methods for managing hazards. By performing five critical activities, you can improve safety performance and culture: engage in safety discussions, conduct job-safety briefings, verify safety procedures, identify and mitigate physical hazards, and analyze incident response and root causes.

By adopting these behaviors, you can have a profound impact on personnel, without adding more work to your busy schedule. Doing so will build your safety leadership competency, while also improving your ability to execute task-oriented activities and relationship-oriented activities.

Task-oriented activities ensure that safety objectives can be accomplished. A leader is responsible for setting employees up with the right tools and equipment, implementing policies and procedures that support strong safety performance, and displaying a commitment to safety by leading safety meetings and training sessions.

Relationship-oriented activities help to ensure that safety objectives will be accomplished. Providing consistent feedback, conducting engaging and relevant safety meetings, modeling safety behaviors, and celebrating exposure-reduction successes encourage others to work safely and meet safety objectives.

To develop safety leadership skills, you must cultivate both your task- and relationship-oriented capabilities. These skills do not need be developed in isolation, but rather they can be practiced while executing critical safety leadership activities and applying leadership best practices.

The five safety leadership activities discussed here are both task- and relationship-oriented and are necessary for improving safety across many industries. Your attitude and the method you use to perform each of these activities is just as important as performing them. Treating these tasks as necessary evils will give the appearance that you are not interested in the well-being of others.

Make sure to involve frontline workers; failing to do so can undermine the entire safety effort. You have the power and responsibility to build a strong safety culture and create an environment in which employees are eager to commit to safety by demonstrating that you value safety. To lead safety efforts effectively, you first need to take safety seriously.

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